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Whiskeytown Lake

When two people love each other, they compromise. So when I asked Mike last week if he would like to go to the pool with me, he hesitated for only a moment before saying, “Yes, I’d like to go.”

Bless him!

I knew he was going to the pool simply to be with me. This wouldn’t be much fun for him, but I love being in the water. My activities have become limited compared to what they used to be and we’ve had to adjust our shared activities.

But we haven’t had to adjust our love.

That’s when I wanted to do something that would make him happy.

“I know,” I said. “Let’s go swimming at Whiskeytown Lake today.”

“Really?” he asked, a glint in his eye.

I haven’t had the desire to swim in a lake for two years. While it is one of my absolute favorite things in the world to do, my chemo-induced neuropathy makes my feet hurt when they get cold. And Whiskeytown Lake is cold! But it’s also clear. And its bottom sparkles with golden flakes. And I knew we would have more fun.

So, excited by the prospect of doing something we are both passionate about, we went.

Cool, Clear, Water

Cool, Clear, Water

And look what happened!

It was one of my favorite days this summer.

Plus the fact that Mike was doing something for me and I was doing something for him.

Oh, yeah, did I mention this was one of my favorite days this summer!

 
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Taking Tea with a Buddhist Monk

If I knew then what I know now, I’d be saying it differently!

When was the “then?” Two weeks ago: August 24, 2013

What was the “it?”  That part about positive thinking.

What is the “difference?” Taking tea with a Buddhist Monk in Mt. Shasta.

Two days before serendipitously sipping tea with a Master Monk, I had been a guest on Dr. and Alexandra Rusu’s weekly radio show about different aspects of healing.

Somewhere in the conversation the subject of positive thinking arose. In case there were others listening who have been diagnosed as terminal, I wanted to make it clear that having negative thoughts is OKAY! How could it be otherwise? It is quite appropriate when looking your mortality up and down that you stamp your feet up and down. But I’m not sure I made it clear that one must not get mired in the negativity.

Not that I do, or at least I didn’t think I did, but the Monk told me to think positive. He also told me what was causing my cancer. He told Mike’s daughter, Elise, about a problem she was having with two people and how to solve the problem, and he told Mike, my husband, how best to communicate with his daughter and with me.

All of this by itself isn’t anything to write home about, except the Monk had never seen us before, nor had we had time to have a conversation with the man, and earlier in the morning the three of us had discussed Elise’s problem and how I most need Mike to communicate with me. The monk was 100% accurate in everything he said.

He didn’t tell me what was causing my cancer, however, until I asked him if I could possibly live through it. He did not say yes or no, but he told me the cause and then he performed a healing on me.

After he had finished, he looked deep into my eyes and said, “You are okay now. Be happy, happy, happy! Be positive.”

Big Baba Be Happy, Happy, Happy!

Big Baba
Be Happy, Happy, Happy!

If you read my last post, you know that my cancer had started growing again, and chemo was stopped to give my body a chance to build its strength for a possible Plan B. (I guess I didn’t have the most positive outlook after hearing the news.)

Yet, when the San Francisco oncologist examined me two days later, he told me the CAT scan showed the cancer to be stable, and he couldn’t find the nodule. Neither could I. And since then, neither could my Redding oncologist who KNOWS it was there! He said it was about the size of a walnut. It seems to be inexplicable.

When I asked my “if-I-can’t-see-it, I-don’t-believe-it” husband if what had happened opened any possibility in his mind that there might be something more in Heaven and Earth than we know about, he assured me it did not.  But then he did say, “It does blow my mind, however.”  Then the morning after my oncologist appointment in San Francisco, he did tell me, “Maybe I’ll become a Buddhist.” Ha!

Who knows what is going on in my body. Or any of our bodies.

But there is one thing I do know: I am staying positive. Not to the extent that I deny or cover up any negative emotions that arise. But to the extent that I tell the truth: I am okay!

And so are you!

(If you care to listen to the radio program, below is a link to Dr. Rusu’s blog. Enjoy!)

We’ve been talking to some sort of health practitioner on every show but today we took a different approach and interviewed someone who is receiving care. Gayle has been dealing with pancreatic cancer since 2011 and has since started a blog: http://www.gaylemadden.com/ about her health  journey which we found very inspirational for anyone going through any […]

Read more

– See more at: http://drrusu.com/radio-show/#sthash.q909AblP.dpuf

 
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Healers

I bought $100 worth of art supplies Thursday morning while in San Francisco. You may not think that was a big deal since I have cash to cover the plastic and I love to create art, but it was. You see, in an hour I was scheduled to meet with my SF oncologist. He would tell me the results of my CAT scan, and I was worried.

My Redding oncologist told me two weeks ago that the new hard lump I felt (he felt it, too) near my belly button was cancer growth, that the chemo was no longer working. He stopped chemo so my body could recover enough to handle a new treatment in case my primary oncologist had a “Plan B.”  I knew the immediate consequences if there was no further plan.

Buying unnecessary art supplies for the future when I may not be here is hard for this frugal-minded girl to do. I wrestled with the fact that I may not live long enough to use the paints and brushes I wanted, so why spend the money. But then I decided that if I didn’t have very long to live, I would paint! I would paint my way through it. I would paint my journey. I would paint my love and my tears. I would paint my end. In other words, I would live until I died. So I bought my treasures and headed to the doctor’s office.

Dr. Baron--Healer

Dr. Baron–Healer

Dr. Baron met Mike and me instantly and whisked us into his office. I had told Mike that morning that I was worried about the test results, and I was worried about what I would say in response to options that may be offered. The three of us settled in, Mike and I practically holding our breath.

Dr. Baron spoke first, “Good news. Your cancer is still stable.”

“What?” I was hesitant. “Have you seen the report from the other oncologist?”

He scanned the report. “Sometimes there are small set-backs along the way, but the scan looks good.”

He led me to the examining room, where he looked for the cancerous lymph node.  (Medically referred to as Sister Mary Joseph Nodule–I thought my Redding Dr. was swearing in Catholic when he first called it by name!)

As the physician pressed the area of the nodule he asked, “Do you mean this ?”

“No. The hard lump is gone,” I answered. “I couldn’t find it yesterday or the day before.”

“I can’t find it, either,” he said. “I’m very relieved.”

Me, too!

And then I told him the story about the Buddhist Monk who had given me a healing two days earlier….

Buddhist Monk--Healer

Buddhist Monk–Healer

And I will tell you the story next time I post a blog.

I won’t now because I can’t wait to open those delicious colors of paint I bought in San Francisco last Thursday morning.

The tubes that remind me that a life full of passion is to be lived, not to be given up on.  At least not yet!

 

 
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Fashionista Meets Hospital Gown

Published on August 8, 2013 by in Inspirational

 

Fashionista Pamela & Fasionable Gayle

Fashionista Pamela & Fashionable Gayle

How do you like my new fashion statement? I love it! (I’m the one in bloom.)

I think the colors are especially becoming, don’t you?

Okay, you probably noticed the hospital gown, too, but who cares about that!

Gown, Schmown… Go for the glory.

Anyway that’s what I’d like to think my friend Pamela was thinking when she fashioned her latest vogue creation for me: Darling Dahlias.

And Darling they are; and as you can see, so is she.

We laughed forever, and as I walked the halls in style, EVERYONE smiled.

I smiled back.

Thank you, Sweet Pea, for the scent of happiness you sprayed in my sterile room and eager heart!

And for those of you who may be wondering about that hospital gown, yep, I wore it for three nights. Heck, I even wore it for three days. :-)

I went to the hospital through the back door (ER) due to fever.

Weeks earlier I had told my Doc I was toughing out high temps to stay out of the hospital–something I wanted to do at all costs.  He told me it was my choice, but I could possibly die within six hours of getting a fever.

Oops!

I quickly back-pedaled. “Well, maybe not at ALL costs. Not yet, anyway. I’m too busy living.”

So after I got over being too sick to get out of bed, I went off on adventure down those now lit-up-with-a-flower-on-my-head halls and guess what I found outside? (Never know where adventure may take you.)

Heaven!

Heaven!

 

 

More Heaven!

More Heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But you know the best part of all?

Thanks to my friend, Pamela, I got to Heaven in style!

Yuk, Yuk!

 

 
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Happy Birthday!

Published on July 18, 2013 by in Inspirational

I don’t mind getting older. What’s to mind!

So when Michael asked me last week what I wanted to do for my birthday, I couldn’t think of anything more thrilling than to go for a bike ride.

Okay, some of you are probably saying I need a more exciting life, but I’m here to tell you nothing could have made me happier!

HAPPY Birthday!

HAPPY Birthday!

And I say that because I COULD ride my bike!

It’s been months since I have been strong enough, but here I am, once again strong enough to ride. It was a short ride, but one of the sweetest I’ve ever pedaled. My spirit was soaring, my legs were pumping and my heart was singing!

Ah, to be alive doing the things I love with the person I love.

Sundial Bridge

Sundial Bridge

Bikers!

Love, Love!

May your next birthday be as sweet as my last!

Until then, may you enjoy being alive, doing the things you love with the people you love.

What could be sweeter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Birds of a Feather!

Published on July 5, 2013 by in Inspirational

Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the fact that my hair is growing back. After all, once you’ve experienced cold air on a bald head, you’re happy to take cover again. In fact, you’re downright giddy!

And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with gray hair growing back on a once colorful head. In fact, I’m happy to have any hair at all.

But I am saying….

Well, let me show you what I am saying:

Gayle

Gosling

Gosling

Get the connection?

Not that I’m not used to being a little fuzzy headed at times….

So I called out the Big Guns:  Mike’s daughter, Michole, that is.  She’s an artist. The commonplace is putty in her hands. She fashions it into things of beauty.

Michole working her magic!

Michole working her magic!

 

 

 

New Do

Gayle’s New Do

 

 

Gosling's New Do

Gosling’s New Do

 

Okay, okay. I know a gosling doesn’t turn into a swan, but I’ve never really wanted to be part of the “birds of a feather” crowd!

Instead, I want to be me. Gray hair, no hair, chin hair doesn’t matter, I’ll take what I get, and I’ll be darned well happy to have it! And that includes the people in my life, like Mike’s beautiful daughter Michole and Ed, her equally lovely man. Some feathers I like especially well!

 

 

 

 
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Van Gogh Sunflowers

Published on June 22, 2013 by in Inspirational

“This is so much fun! I want to do this every day!”

(Excuse me for a moment for quoting myself, but nobody else said it.  Ha! ha!)

“Well, then, why don’t you?” someone shouted from the other side of the room.

Why don’t I indeed!

My exclamation was a joyous reaction to using Van Gogh as an inspiration to paint sunflowers. My friend Debbie Diestler facilitated the art class at Grace Place, a local restaurant. She supplied the instruction and materials for 20 students and painting the flowers supplied the fun!

Francie, Debbie, Gayle & Sunflowers!

Francie, Debbie, Gayle & Sunflowers!

But the shout-out supplied the ponder.

If, indeed, painting flowers is so much fun, why don’t I paint every day?

Why don’t I do exactly what I want every day–especially now, when every day is so precious.

I guess I do.

When I have energy, I do something.

When I’m out of energy, I rest.

Those are pretty much my two choices: I’m either doing one or the other.

What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t so much matter that I’m doing what I want. What matters is that I recognize that I’m wanting what I do.

So, have I painted again since Deb’s class?

No. I’m writing this blog post, I’ve been eating watermelon, I’ve been cleaning the cat’s litter box, and I’ve been resting. And I’ve enjoyed every one of them in its own time.

How about you? What activity do you love so much that you want to do it every day? Do you?

If so, you’re easily pleased.

If not, and you’re satisfied with what you do, perhaps you, too, have found the secret to contentment.

If not, and you’re not satisfied with what you do, perhaps it’s time. The secret is out!

 

 

 

 
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Support is Not Just for Hose!

“We can support you through your treatment.”

That statement brought a tear to my eye as I watched my chemo nurse, Angela, preparing me for a chemo infusion. She said the words in response to my anxiety that chemo had so quickly depleted my white blood cells. She was telling me that by receiving neupogen shots after chemo, my bone marrow would make more.

As she spoke, I realized that not only would Angela and the other nurses be there to give me shots and infusions, they would be there to give me emotional support as well.

Bless her. Bless them all!

Angela--in support of Gayle

Angela–in support of Gayle

After all, isn’t support really a recognition–a recognition to validate I am here.

How many of us at some time in our life have had the urgent need to be acknowledged. To be seen. How many of our actions today are motivated by this one inner desire?

Look at the child who calls so beseechingly to his mother, “Look, Mommy, look at me!”

Does that longing ever go away?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, even though I like to THINK I do :-). But I suspect that as we begin to see others, we recognize our self, and as we begin to see our self, we recognize others.  Could it be that as this happens, self-doubt begins to go away, exposing the love that has been waiting.

I’ve come to think that every thought, every interaction is either in support of another (or self) or a lack of support, and that support is the physical manifestation of love.

I don’t know, maybe I’m making way too much about this thing called support. But what I do know is that the support I have received and continue to receive raises me up. And somehow I know that the person giving support receives support in direct proportion, if not ten time more, than given. Maybe there’s a Support Bank in the sky that registers our credits until we need it.

But, really, don’t ALL of us need support ALL of the time?

If so, who might you be in support of today? Could it be everyone you meet? Why not. You never know who you might recognize!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Sitting Upright!

Published on May 26, 2013 by in Inspirational

“If I’m sitting upright, I’m doing okay.”

That’s my new answer to the question, “How are you?”

If, instead, you ask, “How ARE you?” then my answer will be, “If I’m sitting upright, I’m doing okay. If I’m NOT upright, I’m doing okay, too.”

It may sound like a subtle difference, but I assure you, it is HUGE.

The only reason I mention it, is that it has come to my attention that some people don’t know quite what to say to me, or to anyone else facing a terminal illness. Everyone is different, of course, but I can only say, speak from your heart. Then my reaction doesn’t matter. I will either laugh, cry or be amused, but I will love you for your honesty.

If you want to ask a specific question about my condition–ask me.

If you want to tell me what’s happening in your life (good or bad)–tell me. (And for Heaven’s sake don’t think your problems are insignificant next to mine. Poppycock! Yours are just different, that’s all!)

If you want to tell me that you’re thinking about me, but don’t know what else to say–I’ll guide you.

If you wonder how I’m handling things–ask.

If you want to tell me how sad or angry you are that this is happening–express it.

If you want to send me your love–send it.

If you want to watch from afar–watch.

If you want to tell me about your loved one who has died–tell me.

Say to me now what you would have said to me before I got sick: I am the same person!

In other words, be who you are. That’s all I ask. Again, no matter what my reaction may be, (as I feel free to express my heart),  I love you. If I cry, let me cry. If I laugh, expect me to snort. If I am tired and can’t engage, I’ll say so. But no matter what my reaction, I will not put you out of my heart.

Besides, what is there to be afraid of? Me? You? I don’t think so!

If my condition can help you more fully appreciate your own, then we are both blessed.

So drop in anytime, via any method you choose, even thoughts. You are welcome here–exactly as you are.

Laurian & Gayle Holding Each Other Upright!

Laurian & Gayle Holding Each Other Upright!

 

 
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JOY!

Published on May 18, 2013 by in Inspirational

Jan brought joy into my life.

First, she came to visit, and I love her. She lives in New York so our visits are few and far between.

Second, she cooked a delicious dinner for Mike and me. Since I have a hard time eating anything except popsicles, that was YUMMY!

Third, she gave me an exquisite scarf and beautiful headscarf. (Nothing wrong with a little materialism!)

Fourth, she gave me an excuse to hike one of my favorite trails: Brandy Creek Falls in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. (Notice the names?)

Joyful Jan & Gleeful Gayle

Joyful Jan & Gleeful Gayle

Fifth, she asked me what needs to be said about joy.

As a teacher, one of my favorite things to do is answer a good question. As an aspiring student to the mysteries of life, one of my favorite things to do is ponder. So I combined the two and here is my answer:

Our perception of being in joy or out of joy is an illusion. Joy is never absent. Joy is the fabric of who we are. Any time we do not feel joy, we are telling a lie. The lie will be one of self-doubt or unworthiness. To find joy is the illusion. We will not find it because we think it is not present.

To allow joy to express itself we must surrender the false beliefs we hold about ourselves and about our brother.

Joy vs the lack of joy is simply a gauge to know if we are telling the truth.

So, that’s what I have to say about joy.

Well, I always have a LITTLE bit more I could add:

Rejoice when you have your joy.  Re-JOY-ce simply means to be who your are: return to joy.

And, perhaps, most importantly:

DO NOT BE ASHAMED OF YOUR JOY!

I hope you are experiencing joy in your life today. That’s who you are!

Thank you, Jan, for your visit of love and sharing. I can’t wait until we once again ponder the mysteries of life together. Oh yeah, and trek the trails!

 
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