strong offer Friday : transform terror into commitment, and entitlement into hope

I asked my friend, Laurie Foley, to speak on the topic, “The Courage to Be Mortal,” at the first Camp I hosted, in September 2013, thirteen months after she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It just so happened–as I learned during her speech–that she was diagnosed on the evening of my 53rd birthday as I was turning the age my father was when he died, while nursing my husband, John, a week after he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. There were a lot of balls up in the air on that day in history, but none so heavy as Laurie’s. She wasn’t sure she could be at Camp, because of her health, and I told her there would be a space for her if she could, even at the last minute. What she brought that gathering was a perfectly constructed speech, and more heart and wisdom than our souls could absorb in one sitting. Hers is a message we can all learn from. May it be shared widely, because it changes lives. I have seen the truth in this talk, for myself and many others who heard her speak that day. Laurie Foley has entered hospice care this week, and in her active dying continues to teach all of us about the power we all have to transform the energy of terror into commitment, and entitlement into hope. If I had to choose five friends to be in my lifeboat as the Titanic went down, Laurie Foley would be there. So this week leaves me feeling bereft, and in her honor, I will transform that into molecule-rearranging...

Thinking Thursday: ideas that will make you reconsider and rethink

Every Thursday, some links you might want to explore, things that have caught my attention, questions we might need to be asking ourselves. MIND This was totally me when I was a baby, and it is totally me now, too, when a good book comes to an end. Neuroscience finds rituals that will make you happier. BODY Who knew? The CDC’s incredibly condescending message to young women. An excerpt from the essay about a CDC infographic: “One of the unexpected costs of being female is that people keep holding you accountable for other people’s behavior. You thought you were just a person, but it turns out that you are a wizard. You control the actions of others by the way you choose to dress and walk and talk and live your life.”  And, in related news, misogyny rules. So does ageism. Shocker, that. I love eating meals from bowls, so this post of 30 quick soup recipes appeals, mightily. Oh dear god, how I love these. And YOU KNOW I love these.  And I love washi tape. Dang. That’s the end of an era. SOUL “Your job as a parent is not to say, ‘Tell me what you want to be when you grow up.’ Instead, if you just try everything and are super attentive — not in a helicopter-y, my-child’s-a special-snowflake way — you can be aware of what they gravitate to, and encourage them to do more of it. See if that light still shines in their eyes. Pay attention to what sparks them.” Why don’t we talk about the pain of friendship break-ups? I love this artist’s work...

poetry wednesday : just a body whose heart’s still beating, a morsel.

Full Dark by Molly Fisk   Tonight, inside my body, the blood races through veins, passing in its circuit a piece of chicken wire. Calling it something homely gives me all the power over the stent I’m ever going to have: thus does woman return to Eden and name the world. But tonight, I’m not a woman, just a body whose heart’s still beating. I could be elk, frog, house cat, spawning salmon. A raptor sailing above its next morsel. I could be the morsel. My friend whose chest was cracked years ago is still astonished that you can’t feel anything with your heart. There’s no sensation, only the blind clenching and unclenching. I’ll tell you what scares me most: how fast it beats. Tonight, the last birds scatter goodbyes across the lawn. The sky’s that nearly sherbet color I can’t match with paint. Life is full of minor disappointments. Failures of skill, failures of wit, of luck. That the heart can’t feel a thing is pretty funny — love being only in our minds, after all. Tonight, the light will drain from air the way it always does and then the blue hour descend and then full dark. I’m still as brave as I was before the careful insertion of chicken wire: not more, not less. Probably, like my father, and his father — with or without salt, soy, butter, egg yolks, exercise, and wonder — I will live as long as I live. Not a moment longer.   Molly Fisk sent me this poem a few days ago, and of course since as of last Monday, I...

Your life is the vision board. Better get a new glue stick.

Such anticipation! The stack of magazines is ready. My glue sticks are standing at attention. The making of the vision board is about to begin. What’s this I see on the top shelf of the closet? 2012’s vision board? I’m still not that thin, well nourished, rested, empowered, abundant. My house is still not HGTV worthy. What if we told the truth about our real lives, not the lives we lust after, desire, and postpone living for? Instead of the Hallmark card or Successories poster version we usually hear, it might sound something like this: My real life practices are to over-schedule myself, be so overbooked that I’m always late and I hate being late, look forward to appointments canceling so I can breathe, sit all day at my desk without moving, scarf down candy for lunch, and forget to floss. Or perhaps they are: My life practices are to hide from confrontation, run toward easy fixes that don’t last, and, evidently, to perpetuate a huge gap between intention and action. Truth. The edges on a vision board are clean, neat, tidy, in colors that are clear. But life is dirty, messy, chaotic, and its colors are often muddy, like mixing one color too many with the ones already on your palette and having it go ochre brown suddenly. (MULTIPLE METAPHORS ALERT) It’s a beautiful, awkward, hot thing when you come at the truth of life head-on. Because there’s stuff in there to notice, to learn from, to get over feeling ashamed about in order to move into greater alignment between your real life and your vision board life. And when you...

When you break open, it happens by surprise

This is what broke me open. The heart attack didn’t do it. The complications from the heart cath and stent of a 90% blocked major artery didn’t do it. A hole in my femoral artery didn’t do it. My disbelief and anger at being told it was all in my head didn’t do it. This tiny bottle did. The moment I saw it today after John brought home all my new prescriptions, I could see my hands fly to my mouth as if in slow motion, and feel the sobs start. This is what broke me open, a bottle of nitroglycerin pills that I will carry in my purse, my blue jeans pocket, my car, my suit jacket, my beautiful hand-painted silk tunic, for the rest of my life. The tears were immediate, hot, unrelenting. I held my incision to reduce the pain from my sobs moving my abdomen up and down, causing paroxysms of hotness. John walked in, wondering, and I held up the bottle, and tried to speak: “This is what Daddy had. This is what he had in his pocket when he died. I found it in the pocket of his blue jeans when we got home from the hospital after he was dead. And I kept it. I kept everything he had in his pockets that day, in a little box. With a tiny bottle of nitroglycerin just like this one.” My words rushed together, largely unintelligible because of the crying. John stood still. I had been young when I carried his clothes home from that hospital, but old enough to recognize the lunging desire to capture...