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Dancing With Wolves

“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.” Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf

I was originally just going to write about my experience with the wolves but after posting this quote with my coaching circle, the following questions came back to me – “Do you see yourself, your life in this quote anywhere? How are you the wolf.”? After pondering this for a while, I realized that yes, I do see myself in this quote. One of my BIG triggers is when I believe others have a negative perception about who or what I am. Dependent on who they are, I want to make them like, respect, value etc., me. This can be a tough row to hoe as, of course, I have no control over others. One of my therapists once said, “what others think of you is none of your business”. Needing others’ approval is on my list of things I’d like to shift in 2015.

So back to the real wolves. Our tour started with some pretty grim facts about the hunting and eradication of wolves during the last century. Many of you may know the success story of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and their incredible impact on the environment. Check out the four minute video at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q on this. However, it is clear that the animosity towards wolves is still alive and well, including killing supported by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. My father-in-law sent me a great article that highlights both the conservation challenges and the possibilities for the future at http://www.oregonwild.org/wildlife/wolves/the-journey-of-or7.

Having my wolf, Leila as my spirit guide, I wondered how I would feel being at the sanctuary, among real wolves. When I connect with her energetically, she feels light and free, peaceful and wise, allowing me to bring those elements in to myself. The energy of the wolves in the sanctuary was different – powerful, majestic and strong but still with an amazing grounded wisdom. I felt no fear, but certainly experienced their strength as I fed them, getting knocked over a few times! Power and strength are particularly important to me as when I believe that things are happening to me not with me, I feel small and powerless, afraid and anxious. A theme for this past year, that’s for sure.

So check out the pictures below from the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. We also hung out with some cute, chubby foxes!

Lots of love,
Amanda

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Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/user/sequinofkindness! I am featured in Episode 6, which you can either watch in it’s entirety or in shorter segments that are labelled as to their content. I discuss how I am spreading the energy of love, peace and connection through my  “You’ve Been Flowered” program.  Enjoy!

If you happen to live in Chelmsford and want to see when it’s on the telly, go to http://www.chelmsfordtv.org/schedule.

And here, also, is a picture of me being attacked by wolves from my visit to the wolf sanctuary this week (they are really just after the food in my hands!).  More to come on the trip.

Love to all,
Amanda

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I have not written for a few weeks due to the holiday season.  It’s not that I have been busy, but rather very pensive, thinking about 2014 and pondering what 2015 might bring for me, although who the bleep knows, right?

But here I am, right now, in Colorado Springs, starting  2015 with an adventure! I have been allowed a few days off from radiation to give my burned skin a chance to heal a little before the final week of my treatment. I am using this time to take a trip to Colorado Springs to hang with wonderful women and wolves! I have joined a women’s group and we will work together for ten months on a journey of self discovery and growth via phone, skype etc., but are meeting in person this weekend. We are from all over – Texas, London, California and me from Boston. Steve thinks the whole thing is very bizarre, cavorting with people I’ve never met in a house in the middle of nowhere and visiting wild animals that could eat me.  And I suppose if you look at it like that, perhaps he’s right! But those of you that know me are not at all surprised, I’m sure.

And why wolves in Colorado Springs?  I have always been fascinated by them and about ten years ago, I discovered that I have a beautiful white wolf as my spirit guide.  The energy of her brings me comfort and wisdom.  This women’s group is about using the energy of wolf in our everyday lives and we are spending half a day at a wolf sanctuary here.  The thought of looking a real wolf in the eye gives me the chills. I have attached a link to the energy of wolf if any of you are interested:  http://www.spiritanimal.info/wolf-spirit-animal/

I am also craving an oasis in time, space to just be with my inner wisdom after all I have already been through and the pieces I have to face this year. Apparently, there are two times when cancer patients have the propensity for depression: when first diagnosed and when finishing treatment. I certainly experienced the former but have been wondering how treatment end would hit me. Well in therapy this week, I discovered, getting in touch with the massive vulnerability I feel, sobbing all over the therapist! It’s particularly acute for me as this is a cancer repeat performance and with the BRCA2, know just how vulnerable I am, along with my girls. My sense of invincibility is rocked to its core.

I want to make clear that I am not sinking into depression, but our feelings demand to be heard and acknowledged, to be brought out in to the light and loved.  So in my pondering on this past year, I have decided that I would not change a thing – nothing, nada.  Did I enjoy it all?  No, of course not.  Would I want to repeat it?  God, I hope not.  Is this journey bringing me gifts?  Yes, some of which I fully recognize and some of which need yet to be uncovered (subject matter for a future post).  So here I stand, at the beginning of another year, ready to embrace all of life’s adventures, big and small.

Happy New Year and I’ll let you know how it goes with the wolves.

Love to all

Amanda

Hairy Tail, Part I

One of the things I most enjoy about the holiday season is our Christmas Tree. It adds sparkle and light to my holiday spirit. We don’t do much decorating around the house, either in or out, as I am much too lazy and Steve is rather bah-humbug about the whole thing. But my one effort to let the neighbors know we do posses some seasonal joie de vivre is the tree. I used to insist on a real one but eventually my tree hugging nature, combined with the chore of picking pine needles out of the rug for months after, drove me to agree to Steve’s pleading for a plastic version with lights already attached (I hear some of you out there screaming in protest!). He subsequently purchased what must’ve been the cheapest and thus puniest tree he could find in Target in the January sales.

The thing has lasted us two years but this year has received a serious onslaught in the form of ‘dearest’ Peanut, yes, the cat that got stuck behind the wall 20 minutes after arriving home from the shelter. Of course, my purrfect baby, Lulu, would do nothing as heinous as climb the tree, knock off all the ornaments, eat the tree, bend all the branches and knock the ornaments off again, right after we have replaced them. No breakable items have been dispensed from the storage boxes this year, leaving room for all the lollipop stick non-breakables the kids made in elementary school. My poor tree looks ratty tatty and the whole thing exudes an air of unkempt loneliness. I am not mirroring this I hasten to add, but do somehow feel as if my sparkle will have to find it’s mojo from another source. I have included a few images below to provide pictorial representation of the whole sad story!

Hairy Tale, Part II

On Monday I had a shower which I know sounds like just the exciting type of information you’d choose to read about in a blog! But there is a whisper of new news in this as I actually washed my hair! Is there much to wash? No. Did I do it anyway? Yes. I used my most expensive shampoo and then also conditioned the fuzz as you have to pamper the little baby shoots. It felt SO comforting to return to a familiar routine as for the 48 years pre-chemo, I have always washed my hair first in the shower.

Hairy Tale, Part III

And last, but not least in this series of hairy tales/tails, Victoria passed her driving test yesterday. I think I was more anxious for her than she was and now I am even more anxious than she is at the thought of her heading out alone. Luckily her first solo flight will probably be to Michael’s where she works, which is just 5 minutes down the road. As my friend, Eileen, whose daughter passed today, texted “now the worrying begins in earnest”.  And as I replied “ain’t that the truth”!  Another parent/child right of passage bites the dust.

Love to all,
Amanda

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My TV Premier

So yesterday I had my TV interview about You’ve Been Flowered. It’s a taped affair and the guy who is the technical editor for the show (whose Grandmother I once helped with her garden!) won’t be back until next week, so not sure at this point when the grand reveal will happen.

I’ll tell you one thing though, I LOVED doing it! It was just so much fun. Afterwards, Barb, the host of the show, the Sequin of a Kindness, told me I was a natural and even if she says that to everyone, I totally bought in to it! I am thinking I’ll change careers and become an official interviewee, swanning around giving my opinion to anyone who cares to ask. I’ll be a professional celebrity, sort of like Kim Kardashian but older, balder and wearing more clothes. I’d not be able to recreate her champagne glass on the butt photo shoot, but I could certainly balance one on my left boob. Heck, if it hadn’t been deflated, I could’ve balanced a whole champagne bottle, accompanied by canapés! That would certainly get me interviews, I think.

I will obviously attach the link to the show once it comes out, but in the meantime, if you know of anyone looking for someone with an opinion who loves to talk on camera, give me a bell!

On a separate note, a big call out to my Boston work buddies who outdid themselves again with a wonderful care package that I received this week. I got a mug that says “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain…”, along with a beautiful hummingbird ornament and a brand new Kindle with a wonderful lime green case. You really are an amazing group of people and it is my privilege to know you. Thank you xxxx.

Love to all,
Amanda

The Guest House

Every two weeks at The Healing Garden, I attend an In-Treatment Support Group. At our meeting last week, the therapist who leads our small, intimate sessions distributed the following poem by Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks.

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

This poem resonated very strongly for me as I have been feeling so many different emotions on this journey of mine around my health, family, work.  I have taken on the practice of naming my emotions and sending them love, whether I feel upset, disappointed, scared, hurt, used.   It is amazing that this approach liberates me from the spiraling head, the thoughts of righteous indignation, the ‘what ifs’, the sleepless nights spent analyzing a situation.   I recognize my feelings, give them a bed, tuck them in with a warm blanket and a glass of hot milk and honey. Letting them in is NOT about festering or holding on but about being authentic, facing what I am feeling. It is just amazing how quickly things shift when I take this approach. And I can nurture how I feel, deciding what’s at the root of it, what I can learn and last but not least, what do I want to do about it. Is there something I need to change or voice? I am not controlling or managing how I feel, I am being still and listening and that, for me, makes all the difference. And after all, who wouldn’t want to be swept out for a new delight!

Love to all,
Amanda

Two Men and A Booby

For those unaware of my health history, I have walked the radiation path before when in 2011 I had early stage, non-invasive BC, choosing a lumpectomy and radiation.  I had, at that time, visions of warm, comfy rooms where female nurses helped me with my treatment.  No such thing!  Last time, I was in a strange space that resembled a closet that happened to hold radiation equipment and I was attended mostly by two men with the odd woman around every now and again.

Well this time, I have received a slight upgrade which I am not sure is a good thing!  I am now in the fancy radiation room that looks nothing like a closet.  It’s state of the art and the equipment is pretty impressive I must say.  The room is bloody cold to keep the aforementioned fancy equipment at its optimal temperature whilst I lie there half naked freezing my butt (and other parts) off.  And yes, once again, I have two men as my new radiation BFFs, one of whom I had before.

I have had three treatments so far and today, I feel sick of it already.  I am tired of driving to the hospital, I am tired of lying on cold equipment whilst I am fried and although the people are wonderful, I am tired of seeing them all over again!  I would like to be spirited off to a warm desert island where the name Lahey Clinic is nowhere to be seen.

On a more positive note, I am going to be on TV, sans wig, talking about ‘you’ve been flowered’.  It’s not Oprah yet, just local TV, but us philanthropists have to start somewhere!  We’re filming next Wednesday.  I’ll write more about it in the next few days.

Love to all

Amanda

10) I shower in five minutes and am ready to leave the house in fifteen
9) I do not have to shave my legs or arm pits (yeah!)
8) I save a lot of money not having to cut and highlight my hair or buy endless fluffing, thickening or smoothing hair products
7) A lot of people stare at me – some even smile and talk
6) I go out in all manner of weather and have no fear of flat or frizzy hair
5). I can change my hair-do in a flick of the wrist
4) I let my head steam when I go to Zumba and sweat a lot
3) I get a lot of head massages as people want to touch the growing peach fuzz
2) I can go to parties as Spock, Gandhi or Kojak
1) I am getting great treatment to ensure my cancer doesn’t return

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Amanda

The Whole Enchilada

This post contains an accounting of my chest expansion and subsequent issues, so if you work with me and would rather be thinking about my beautiful green eyes as opposed to the activity below my chin when we next meet, please feel free to pass by this post. If you are brave or curious enough to continue, congratulations and here goes.

At surgery, if there is a chance that one might need radiation, the final silicone implants are not used, but expanders are put in as placeholders. These expanders include a port and balloon type containers that are filled with saline solution. The port allows for the injection of extra fluid, thus expanding the site in preparation for the final implants. The side that is to be radiated requires extra liquid as the skin shrinks during the procedure. Well, my plastic surgeon seems to believe that all good things come in large handfuls. Having already watched 34B/C disappear in the rear view mirror, at my last appointment, he gave me extra, extra on the left side as that is where I am to receive radiation. I felt so large and lopsided that I was worried that if I walked too fast around a corner, I might topple over and need help getting upright again. I could take a second job as a personal flotation device for a few small children needing help in the pool but due to rudder imbalance, we’d just keep flapping around in circles. Well, you get the picture and luckily for all concerned, there are none included with this post.

So I go to my first radiation planning session and everyone who sees my chest goes ‘oh my’. We go through most of the planning when the decision comes down from above that we are going to have to rebook as my girls, particularly Dolly on the left, are now just too damn large and the laser beam keeps getting cut off at the pass, so to speak. I get sent back to plastic surgery, having to see someone different as my regular Dr is, luckily, at a conference. ‘Oh my’ says the nurse when she checks things out. ‘Oh my’ says the plastic surgeon when he gets a look, followed by ‘are you going for va va voom?’. Categorically NOT. I think they look fine on Ms. Parton, but that’s where they can stay. Luckily, what can be created can be rent asunder and he was able to deflate, giving me back some balance and dignity.

I had my follow-up radiation planning session today and all went well. I start on December 1st and will finish in early to middle January. I wish for many reasons, including health care costs, that it could all have been finished this year but it’s the gift that just keeps on giving. The hair continues to sprout but patchy, not uniformly and today I felt the beginning of little hairy prickles on my legs. The eye brows and eye lashes have stayed the course for the most part and hopefully they are now out of danger.

So that’s the excitement to date!

Love to all,
Amanda

Gardening In Paradise

Today felt like paradise to me! The weather was just stunning for November and I actually had enough energy to do my pottering, a snip here, collecting leaves there and taking pictures along the way. My love of the earth and the wonderful space I have created in my garden are such a gift to me. I am full of gratitude today as after all, how can I be anything else but joyous when there is such beauty in every day life. Pictures below.

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