Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to show up- from Mom

I was thinking about my mom today, specifically about a conversation we had when she was sick, fighting the cancer, but when things still seemed optimistic. 

She was talking about my dad, and how she really saw how much effort he was putting in to supporting her through the treatment process. She recognized that because she feeling poorly, she was irritable and impatient with him, despite the fact the he was only trying to help and support her. 

She told me she had decided that from then forward, she would choose not to act like a shit (her words) even if she felt like shit.

Both at the time, and looking back, this seemed like a defining moment to me. I can't quite articulate how or what I mean, but I felt it, felt the change in her. 

I have been pondering a lot lately the line between being authentic, and still having a positive attitude. I think it's easy, in light of current teachings on positive thinking, to shove aside and deny feelings that aren't sunny and light, and repress rather than re-frame them. It's another thing entirely to acknowledge the feelings, but to choose not to wallow in them, and to seek a different focus or perspective. 

Once again, my mama was onto something.  I haven't gotten it figured out yet, but I'm grateful for the clues she left for me to find, even now, nearly 4 years after her passing.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

I got my breasts squeezed!

How's that for an attention grabber?

But it wasn't in the fun way. I had my first mammogram last week. I have a family history of breast cancer.

Here's me, in my gown, getting ready. Not glamorous, but life isn't always, and breast cancer isn't, certainly.

We lost my beautiful mama, and my aunt, her beautiful sister Elaine to breast cancer. Both were under 65 when they passed.

I come from a big family. My mama has 2 beautiful sisters who survive her still.  I am one of 7 surviving female first cousins, and at present I think there are 19 women in next generation, and some of them have get the picture, big family, lots of beautiful amazing women I love deeply.

These losses have shaped me, and changed my perspective on life profoundly.  My family, otherwise, boasts decent longevity. Most live into their 80s if not 90s. I grew up with all 4 grandparents until I was 16, and we had few losses in a relatively large family until I was into my 20s. I knew, even then, with less experience and wisdom, that I was fortunate, that we were fortunate, fortunate to have each other, and to have so few untimely goodbyes. I don't take my own longevity as a given anymore.

My mother chose her own path with regard to her health, and how she dealt with her cancer, which was not to address it medically until it was pretty advanced. She was born at home, in small Pennsylvania mining town, where people didn't see a doctor often. Her attitude toward modern medicine, at least from my perspective, was a mix of fear and skepticism. I know this evolved somewhat as she received treatment. But all in all, she wasn't comfortable with traditional medical treatments.

She also didn't really want the details of her diagnosis, feeling that this would somehow impress upon her, and shape her destiny. I am a very different person in this way. I would rather have the information, the full information, and then choose how to react and respond. Not knowing is oh so much worse for me than knowing. 

I did spend a few days lost in the fear of what if? What if this happens to me?  Who will care for me? Will my daughters be okay? And then I remembered to come back to now. Breast cancer is by no means a foregone conclusion for me, and it's not happening now. I just need to deal with right now.

So, at my Doctor's recommendation, I got a mammogram. I am much younger than my mom and aunt when they were diagnosed, and my doctor had no concerns for me now. But she felt, and I agreed, that having baseline photos of my healthy breasts would useful in the event that anything occurs down the line.

The imaging staff was great, and the process was a uncomfortable at times, but not painful for me. And over in about 15 minutes. 

That said, I'm not necessarily advocating that everyone get a mammogram regularly. The nurses study, which is referenced in this NY Time article, and which is was a very well conducted, well respected research study, indicates that early detection through mammography, does not indicate a better survival rate. This is pretty big stuff. Mammography in the United States is a profitable enterprise, and both this study, and my own doctor, call into question the ethics and the usefulness of regular mammograms.

For me, it made sense this time. And I want my daughters to know, if ever I do encounter breast cancer, that I was proactive and did all in my power to insure my own health and longevity. We each have to follow our own path in life, health, and even death, and part of my own process of grieving my mother has included both trying to make peace with her choices, and defining more fully how I view health and what steps I will take toward my own health. Mostly, though, I'm glad that I still have more time to figure this, and many other things out.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Grapefruit Day

Today was warm for March. Not balmy, not too sunny, but warm enough that Luci and I went outside to draw on the sidewalk with chalk. She didn't want her coat. Oh, this girl and clothes, she would still just rather wear as little as possible, but is starting to embrace fashion at times, and the practicality of warmth. So she ran back in for her jacket, and we drew a lot. 

Then she was hungry, and she asked me to list the fruit we had on hand. Of the available options, she selected grapefruit. We went inside to get one. She picked it out, the first one we saw being a little wrinkly looking. So she selected a good one, I cut it in half and she went right to the drawer for the grapefruit spoons.

I started to instruct her on the best way to dig out the sections, but she assured me she had this. And I, I let her go for it. I'm aware of how much I sometimes think I know best, and lately I'm getting much better at standing back and giving them space to find their own way. Just a grapefruit, afterall.

So back outside we went. She plopped into my lap, and settled there to feed herself the grapefruit. Oh, to be so present every day. I held her, felt her warm, wiggly body, intent on that grapefruit, and was just oh so glad to be there. We had all the time we needed for her to slowly dig out those sections, and eat them. In the end, we were both a little sticky, the grapefruit was perhaps not as fully harvested as possible, but she was quite pleased with herself, and I with myself. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oh, Circle of Life!

This past week or so I've been talking with a co-worker about his mother's imminent passing.  She passed yesterday.  She was 88, she had significant health issues, and she was ready to go. She was able to communicate this clearly to her son,  and he let her know that it was okay to let go. Still, days passed and it took some time before she did.

I spoke with him Monday morning,  asked him how it was going.  He told me she was ready,  but just hadn't let go yet, maybe hadn't quite figured out how. I was struck, after this conversation, and oddly comforted,  by the similarities between waiting to be born and waiting to die. 

When a pregnant woman's time is near,  we get ready,  and we watch and we wait, and we try not to pester too much, but we don't get to know the when of it, or understand the why of the timing. And maybe that is part of the beauty and mystery of it all.

In these past few weeks the news has been full of the passing of some prominent people and I find myself thinking of the not well known who come and go everyday, unremarked except by  those who love them.

And I find myself wanting to hold life, hold it all, more dearly, and simultaneously more loosely, and I don't know how, or if I'm even sure what this means. And so I breathe in, breathe out, and am grateful to just be here, still.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mommy, it snowed!

It's likely to be a green Christmas this year. Daytime temperatures have been hovering around the low 50s, and sometimes creeping into the 60s. I'm told El Nino weather patterns will push the cold and moisture south and west of us. After 2 frigid winters full of arctic blasts and heavy snow, I'm good with that.

My girls, however, have other ideas. They want some snow to play in. This morning morning they popped up and peaked out the window. "Mommy, it snowed!" they exclaimed. "A little or a lot?" I asked, knowing not much had been predicted. "Kind of a lot, it's covering some areas," was the answer.

The scene in our yard this morning looks like this.

Cute, was my first thought, they're excited. Then another thought hit me......

It's really all in how you view it. To me, it was not much. To them, it was SNOW! I think I have a lot to learn about abundance and gratitude from these two. I'm grateful this morning to be mama to these two, and to have a few moments quiet enough to stop, reflect, and see what's right here in front of me.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Photo - Word - Match: Bucolic

While walking today, I happened upon this Bucolic scene.

Of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life:
"the church is lovely for its bucolic setting"

Have you happened upon a bucolic scene lately? Post a link or photo in the comments.

Happy  Thursday, it's almost the weekend!