Saturday, August 29, 2009

a blessed day

Simple. Soft. Phoning friends while driving around and exploring neighborhoods while running errands... Jogging in the local park at 5:30 pm in the muggy air.... raiding the local mega-sized Harry's Market (really a Whole Foods) for nourishing food... ironing clothes.... thinking of Church tomorrow... praying for two good friends who married today in South Carolina... wistful for my dear friends in Scotland whom I miss.... grateful to be alive, happy and well


a tip for those sharing comments

I've realized that when I wish to mess around with the Comments section on another's or even my OWN blog, I have to hit the Post Comment circular thingy twice after I've written what I want.

If I'm in another's blog, it'll then prompt me to put a bunch of scrambled letters into another box, which seems to be a spam prevention maneuver. If I'm in my own, I just have to hit it twice.

So if you want to share and this has stopped you in the past, you don't have to let it anymore! Again, if you do so as Anonymous, please sign your first name at the end.

Being stubborn has its own rewards sometimes...

I've had an oft-challenging week and will write more when I can weave some wisdom into the whinging......

My thanks to my dear and missed friend Eva H., whose photographic eye is responsible for the visual in this post. Bless you my friend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

moving through the dark places

The Atlanta oncologist I met the day before yesterday is a nice man. Exhale. He is not the expert in MDS-AML I really need in that corner of the ring, if I dare tempt the fates with such an analogy, but he is a more than adequate 'place holder'. He gave me names of specialists who do bone marrow transplants, and described the atmosphere in the three local hospitals where those are performed. Considering that I would not have that done today even if you put a gun to my head, I now find it interesting that I keep that card in a back pocket. (It's a clichés-R-us day). I can see him once a month for blood draws and I now have someone to phone if I'm feeling poorly. Ahhhhh!

Aside from the build-up of my anxiety which slithered in weed-like between prayers and breaths, my WBC and neutrophils could be heartier. Ok, so they suck; I'm trying to be nice to what few I have. I did squeeze a good 24-hours of distress out of those numbers: 1.2 WBC and .3 ANC. (If you're a doctor and you're reading this, no, you may not phone me, thank you very much!). The reds are rockin', however - near normal RBC and platelets at 83!

I am praying for and researching a holy healing for my underlying MDS (myelodysplasia). That's the one where my counts stay low and sometimes whisper out to the naughty tendency to turn into active leukemia. When I told Dr. H. that my last bone marrow biopsy in late April showed 6% or less of blasts, he smiled widely; "That's good!" By the time my friend Susan & I left, we were both spent. I didn't even ask to stop at a Starbucks for a decaf vanilla latté as I'd threatened.

On to Church and my worship of the Risen Lord, my Friend throughout all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

holy distractions and sacred present-mindedness

"It's the wrong trousers, Gromit, and they've gone wrong!" - Wallace & Gromit.

The photo of luscious blood sugar annihilators is from some bikkie shop in Scotland. I was en route to the Isle of Iona in 2006, where I thought I'd find Christological paradise and instead roiled in disillusionment and depression.

I could have left. I'd committed to 10 weeks slavery, I mean service as a volunteer. "But I keep my agreements...." I whined in neo-martyrdom as the first days showed me that I'd been sorely mistaken. It was nothing I had hoped and been led to believe it was, this place. Surly the problem was ME and that if I just kept on keeping on and praying even more, everything would be alright!

I had a choice. I abdicated that and suffered.

Today I meet with a potentially new oncologist. I am sure deep down to my quirky bones that he is indeed a very very nice man. He came recommended as someone with a caring demeanor. However my standards have changed markedly from a terrified woman shuffling through the gaping doors of hospital prison to one who is prayerfully making her own choices as best she can. I am not looking for a physician as my only recourse to show me how to make it through the MDS-AML gauntlet alive and - let's go for broke here - well. I want an ally in the holy work of healing where "no guarantees" is an undercurrent. When I bring up the concepts of alternative and holistic, will he lean forward with curious eyes or will I get that bubba stare that barely veils smug? If we even get PAST that part of the meet-and-greet game, how will he respond when I ask him how many people has he treated with my particular collection of bits.... and what happened? Who lived and who died? AML out of MDS is another ball game to de novo AML. That one's bad enough.

My problem with seeing conventional physicians is that I am terrified. I know that Christ is King. I know that if I breathe in and breathe out, I'll feel better, even though I'd rather raid the nearest bikkie shop and put full face into the trough of sugary brain escapes. I know that YOU are praying for me! I am hearing one of the Chancel Choir anthems..... "This is the day which the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it, be glad in it."

This nice doctor isn't even going to DO anything to me today - no bone marrow biopsy lurks. I will get a blood draw, which I haven't had in a rather naughty two months. I feel SO GOOD. Will the counts reflect that or no? What is scarier, facing my deer in the headlights subpersonality in the presence of Da Man, or the caterwauling between my ears whenever I get a CBC print out? It is INARGUABLE that I feel better than I have in 18-24 months. I have two gyms to try out this week! Ah.... but The Numbers.

It's an edgy day for me. It's been an edgy weekend.

I was traumatized by my two hospital stays. Unlike prosaic and holy Iona - it really is a sacred isle, please visit it as a pilgrimage if you can - I could not leave. I could not rip out the IV and say, "Alright already, the food here sucks, you've been very nice but I really must be going." I could not leave and live. After the chemo, I had no white blood cells and neutrophils worth mentioning. If I'd left, if I'd said, "Enough!," my insurance company would've dropped me like a very hot potato and my immune system would've been good for maybe a few hours at best.

I had to stay. I did. I'm alive today, thanks to God, your prayers and admittedly good medical care.

But I couldn't leave. Today I can. And there are some fairly neurotic corners of my psyche that need reminding of that.... that I can breathe, that I have choice, that Jesus and the presence of your prayers as well as my friend Susan will be with me.... and that it's Another Lesson time today.

Stay tuned. It's cool enough for a nice jog, wouldn't you know?

"Don't worry, Gromit - everything's under control!"

Friday, August 21, 2009


I can't I can't......

I wanna I wanna!

This is no bull. (Arrrrrrgh!).

My dear friends Ruth and Davy live out in the country near Rafford near Forres in Morayshire, Scotland. When you're that rural, mailing addresses include terms like "near." Honest.

Now 99.8% of the time, the local herd of cows adorn Ruthie's views from her home office. Prosaic! Godly! Wondrous!

This recent day before supper, however, things had changed. The bull and his harem managed to unhinge the gate and take a rare wander into their private and formerly manicured home haven. As I cannot recreate this scene as well as my friend Ruth, I'll quote her here, adding the question, "When was the last time you looked out of your living room window and saw......?"

And now Ruthie's version:

"All of a sudden I heard a shriek - "Holy shit, holy shit!

I ran through to the living room to find a surreal sight. Our garden was filled with a herd of cows, all disoriented and mooing for help.

"Oh my God what's happened?", I asked in vain.

There they were tramping over every square foot of the garden, no plant, shrub or bush was safe. Reminiscent of Usain Bolt, we suddenly caught sight of Robin the Farmer sprint down the path and in a flash, the mob turned around and headed for a more suitable pasture.

It transpires that the bull (yep him again) was rubbing himself against the gate in the far field, when all of a sudden it clicked open and he decided to lead his merry band to freedom.

Luckily they headed west towards the farmhouse where Bob the dog was keeping guard. "This aint right," he thought and started to howl which alerted their 7-year-old grandson Murray who was playing in the garden. "Grandad come quick!" And Grandad ran for all he was worth.

Davy in the meantime had ventured into the garden and fancying himself as a bit of a cow whisperer, thought the best course of action was to sway towards the gate shouting, "C'mon li'll doggies" several times until they realised "This guys no right, we're not doggies, let's get outta here."

Ah, the joys of living in the country! The garden's a bit worse for wear and there are a few cow pats on the grass, but these two city kids laughed all night."

I miss my friends in Scotland.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

They said "Get a life" and she did

I'd like to announce a Naming Contest for my latest set of wheels here in the USA: A 2006 Honda Accord SE, 4-door, automatic (thank God, my Bay Area 5-speed got old fast), clean as a whistle, 18K miles for $16,850. Of course it was close to twenty grand when all was said and done. My little red Hyundai in Scotland was ultimately named Highland Red by Susan here in Georgia. I'm leaning towards the liturgical and medieval saintly without being too sacrilegious. Anyway, the prize is a drive to the local restaurant of your choice when you come and visit me! Ok, perhaps we'll head to the ocean.....

Klaus is Susan's husband and accompanied me to CarMax the 1st Day there, a brilliant shopping companion for such a borderline overwhelm. I frankly think it makes him even more manly that he gave me permission to post this photo of him in his/their/our driveway just in his socks! "They match the car, Klaus, you're cool," I reassured him. CarMax is a dealer that has NO haggling. Could I have saved, oh, two grand buying private party? Of course. And spent x-amount of time careening all around the Greater Metro Atlanta area plus arranging to schlepp each possibility to a mechanic..... No, they're the best choice for me and did a superb job (thanks, Denese and Chris!) for finding this pearly white gem.

When I first arrived in Scotland back in April which seems like only yesterday or last week, I was down to my last two months of Day-Timers. I've used these analog calendars for 18 years. I love them. They're a healing, grounding antidote for all the hours I spend in front of a screen, digitizing my life on so many levels. I write in pencil and use erasers when I change my mind. You couldn't give me a PDA - I'm wired enough. And when I went to order another set of 12 for the coming year, I paused.

I couldn't do it for weeks. I was slam-dunk arrested by having lived with the never far away awareness that I didn't know how much time I had. I know, it might seem silly for you reading this. Hello? Just order it and put the rest in God's Hands! But you see, I'd never stared at death's possibility quite like that before. A year's worth of Day-Timers? WHY?

I ordered them, finally.

When I left the Bay Area, I donated my 2003 Honda Civic LX to some Franciscan brothers with whom I'd grown in friendship. I gave away 80% of my belongings. I packed the remainder into my 5X10 storage unit. "Either I start anew from scratch or my Executors get to rummage through this lot..." I created a Living Trust, agonizing over whom to appoint to DO things after I died and in fact right before. Oh I hated that!

I did it though.

So buying a car careens into my heart on multiple levels, from acknowledging a continuing life to hearty self-worth to almost apologetic gratitude. Coming up with nearly $20,000 was really hard. I'm fifty-three. "This amount once bought a house! And why isn't it buying a Mercedes?" Live long and mourn inflation. But I knew what I wanted: A comfortable, clean, Consumer Reports-lovin', fuel-efficient car. The only thing it's missing is satellite radio and YOU in it for a drive!

Today I amble over to the Georgia DMV (Dept. of Driver Services) to surrender (the rats) my California Driver's License and get one for this State. I both adore and cringe at the photo on my California license, which is from 2003 and, well, let's just say a lot has happened in the past six years. Ahem. "Wow, you look HOT!" many say when they see it. "Yes, shut up while you're ahead, please," I think. Life on life's terms including photographic proof.

A car. How damn middle class, how bourgeois, how ordinary,

How miraculous. I'm still alive and well enough to think in terms of going places. I'm well enough to cop a resentment at another government agency telling me what I have to do and when. I'm well enough to think of this Saturday's Lookout Mountain Sacred Harp Convention near Collinsville, Alabama, two hours and one time zone to the west.

If this wasn't a part of the country more conservative than California, I might even consider a Bobble Head Jesus doll for my car! I love the Lord and also have a left-leaning sense of humor.

Hondas last a long time. Everyone knows that. I have yet another friend rootin' for the longer-haul while I praise God for TODAY.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

blogland badminton

A little synopsis....

....when I began this healing blogland trek back in late October of 2008, having already goofed off with a Road Trip blog that summer, I had just been hospitalized with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) which came out of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) which WASN'T supposed to be that sort of an issue at all but was. Clearly. So my counts were a little low and I was tired sometimes. Somewhere I read that in 33% of the cases, the MDS would flip suddenly and without warning into AML but no, that would not be me, thank you very much, nuh-uh! I was healthy. Ok, a little grumpy and thanking God for post-menopausal greater calm, but I ate organic when I could, took vitamins, had 22 years of continuous sobriety, prayed, meditated, jogged!, helped others, worked hard, and wouldn'tcha know it, got freakin' leukemia. No fair!

I created the blog so my friends would know what was up. I could not keep up via phone or email when it was just so SO all-encompassing. And then I realized that folks I didn't know would read my blog, which I found puzzling but hey, whatever worked. Now and then I'd get a Comment - and if they signed their name and didn't say something weird/horrible/annoying/antithetical to my beliefs, I'd publish it. I may be in Alanon but hey, the control issues CAN sometimes be coddled.

So now and then this very nice person named Steve would respond. He was polite, prayerful, encouraging. What a nice person I had not even met!

And then Steve got cancer. He has a blog and more Followers than I do (hah! Of course I noticed!). I pray for him now. If you want to read his blog and have your heart open to his authenticity, humor, courage and faith, perhaps you will, too.

My leukemia is in Remission today, which no oncologist worth his or her salt will acknowledge without then growling that I will collapse eventually without warning into a wretched and helpless relapse. What this means in only slightly clearer language is that the leukemic blasts (aka the cancer cells) will go over a certain percentage (I think 20%; last check I was 6%) and that the thin ranks of the Good Guys - my white and red blood cells and platelets and loads of other bits - will sigh and say, "Hey! No fair!" And the damn leukemic blasts, which are white cells which don't grow up (immature - really, they're called that) and don't do ANY worthwhile work, will be partying and I'll get very very sick and kick the bucket without being dragged back into the hospital for .... well, all that stuff I wrote about before.

What am I doing today to keep the blasts at bay? Everything that I can to rebuild and revitalize my immune system, which clearly went down for the count to the extent that something as pervasive as a blood cancer could then manifest. I have no tumor. My bone marrow stopped working properly. Some chromosomal abnormalities kicked in (Trisomy 8, for you scientists). The conventional world pours in the chemo and then says, "bone marrow transplant." I'm considering the latter, even though it alone could kill me. With no guarantees, I turn to the One who gives me the only Guarantee I can count on in my heart.... and add this herb and that tincture. I make fresh organic juices (the new juicer arrived today, woo hoo!) and cut down the cookies by 85%.

And I pray and ask for your prayers. You know, I'm still sorting out what I am asking for. It is for life.... for A LIFE!.. and not merely to have this flesh heap more years without purpose, service, joy, God's grace and, ok, I'll admit it, chocolate now and then. Christ breaks through my chains and, winking, says, "You're free, daughter - run and dance!"

I meet with a possible new oncologist on Monday the 24th. I'll eye him and he'll eye me. Will it be a fit? I had one after making the appointment, triggered to the nth degree. Will I be shown how to bridge a chasm and not just call a blockade a boundary? We'll see.

It's been Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and today, by gar, I have a life. Thanks BE to God.

Monday, August 10, 2009

ransom the captive

I was looking for the right Bible verse to augment the visual of this compelling stained glass window from what I am gingerly yet excitedly calling my new Church, St. David's in Roswell, Georgia. I have a visceral reaction to the stained glass art, having felt chained in numerous ways at various times in my life.

I have a far less grinding trigger with not having found the right Bible verse. I am not a Biblical scholar. I accept that... {almost}....

"Ransom the captive," it says.

I have been claustrophobic. I'm much better now, but in times past, it would seem to take very little - a too-tight crowd, too much bustle and noise, being in an enclosed space, even The Dark - to push me over the edge into a panic attack. A pal or boyfriend would grab my hand as we crossed the street; "Come on, let's go!" My adrenaline would feel like it was shooting out of the top of my head as I jerked my hand back and said oh so indelicately, "I'm okay! Please don't grab me!" (No mean comments please about why I'm still single).

As I careened through pre- and post-menopause, the looney-tunes hormone fluctuations eased. I could be in a crowd. The music could be louder. I could do lovely, all-scrinched-in group hugs. My GOSH I'm getting BETTER! But it sneaks up and gnaws in surprise now and then. Absolutes evade me.

Today I began to do what I have been avoiding for my almost three weeks here: The footwork to find an oncologist in north Georgia. In Scotland it was easy if not always a close drive away. The Forres Health Centre practically fell over themselves to refer me to hematology/oncology at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, 85 miles to the southeast on a very gnarly two-lane road. The long drive was gloriously beautiful but oh, it was a schlepp. BOOM! Loads of oncologists.... until it became clear that continuing on there was not possible without me digging so deep in my pockets that I would go broke. Here, there's no pokey little health centre with G.P.'s phoning me on my borrowed mobile while I was out hiking with my friend Ruthie, giving me updates on whom they'd liased with about My Case.

I have begun truly scouring through insurance and medical center websites, groaning inside. I'm picking up the damn phone. The dance of playing meet-and-greet until I may or may not have the discernment to say "yes!" is not the two-step I'd rather be doing right now. I read through my tomes of alternate cancer healing and feel hope. After research, I add various herbal supplements to my daily regime... and as the weeks go by, feel better and better. It's bloody 90º outside and I'm a happy girl! (I'm half-Russian and do not like extreme heat, in case you're wondering where that came from).

I see oncologists and shit happens.

So after the wailing this morning when I began to sift through the endless trudge of it all, I made some stabs. A former G.P.'s office in California can refer me to a 1st visit here. My medical insurance world remains a tilt-a-whirl funny farm, but at least my California policy will reach here to lovely Georgia.... for a time.

Chains. Emotions. Breathe, I say. And then I would say The Jesus Prayer (not breathing). Is it a sign of my growing health that my penchant for anxiety suddenly had a SPIKE today?

Ransom the Captive.

Lord Jesus Christ
Son of God
Have Mercy on me,
A sinner.

The word sinner used to annoy me. Now it reminds me of my Redemption. It reminds me of to Whom I go holding out my chained hands, feet and heart, asking, "Please set me free, o Lord; You have the Key."

I don't have to work it quite so hard.

Tonight I really need one of my meetings!

Lord Jesus Christ
Son of God
Have Mercy on me
A sinner.

Friday, August 7, 2009

chicken noodle soup

Raise your hand if you're thinking of Jack Canfield now. Good. I thought so.

I almost always bless my food. Say Grace. If in a group of likemindeds, then out loud. Otherwise silently and yet with intended honest gratitude.

I have never in my life made chicken noodle soup from scratch. And when I said grace, I felt the presence of my parents and my little brother and sent a soup blessing to them. This is as close to "triggered" as ever I've been with food. Sometimes a twinge here and there but rarely something that would run deep and threaten a minor upheaval.

I made chicken noodle soup and it is really GOOD.

One of my friend housemates has a cold, so yesterday amidst my continuing landing process, I felt inspired to make some. Off to the local Whole Foods/Harry's Market I scurried, gathering up 97% of all that was necessary. As a nod to my childhood, I asked the nice man behind the meat counter with the New York accent if he would cut up that nearly organic chicken... please? He would. He did.

When I was a little kid, we went to Arnold the Butcher's in Ocean Park (a part of Venice, California) where we bought meat and chicken. Mom would ask for bones for the dogs and got them. "The marrow is good for them," she'd say. What irony now. Then we went two doors down to the Jewish Bakery to get all of those luscious sugary delights that colluded with too much childhood Tetracycline and made my teeth a personal horror and dentist's delight (ka-CHING). This was in the late 1950's and early 1960's. There was no candlestick maker that I recall.....

I shared in my Alanon meeting last night that it took me many many years to deal with an often painful and dysfunctional childhood, from uncovering and discovering to wailing in righteous indignation to lately feeling soft as dough with sadness and compassion for these people who did their absolute best, no matter how imperfect that turned out to be. I spent many years regaling all who would listen of the wretchedness I endured. Heads would nod with sympathetic exhales. And yet what of all the good they did, from the piano lessons that began when I was six to the soup I was fed? I never ever went hungry. They probably, almost assuredly did when they were children. I came along and I was fed, as was my little brother David the short time he was alive.

I didn't think that making chicken soup would lean into my heart like this.

I can thank them now, long after their lives have transitioned over. I can thank God for feeding me His mercies and ask for presence and gratitude, more than I had as a confused young child. Perhaps He can show me how to make more than enough to share.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

my experience, strength & hope today with cancer healing

I've been tight-lipped about what I've been doing as a healing journey when not tango'ing with folks in white coats with needles & IV drips close by. I've been tight-lipped as a self-protective mechanism, not wanting to engage in debates. I am also painfully aware of what a trudge this is, for whomever might be reading this blog having Googled "cancer," "leukemia," "AML" or the like. And I have become aware of alternate healing modalities reading others' sites.

My leukemia sucker-punch was that it came on so SO suddenly late last October. It was not really until I'd completed my 2nd hospital stay (my 1st and only Consolidation to date) that I began to catch my breath and consider options other than 'slash, poison and burn' to quote one of the freedom fighters out there.

My hope and solace are in Christ Risen. Regardless of which herb or natural protocol I feel guided to embrace, that is first and foremost in my life and I cannot live with myself unless I state that unapologetically. I ask that all beings who seek "The Divine" find their spiritual home everywhere. God's Table is enormous. This is how I humbly sit at my chair at God's Banquet.

May God guide your path if you have pulled 'the cancer card' and need to take steps after prayer! Here are some websites I use as educational:

Webster Kehr's extensive site:

Cancer, Step Outside the Box:

A little lad and his family:

Essiac Tea:

Independent Cancer Research Foundation:

The Cancer Cure Foundation:

Apricots from God:

There are mountains of information sources out there. This list is by no means exhaustive! My path has included listening to my intuition, which I pray is based on the indwelling Holy Spirit. One of my first steps in today's journey of alternative healing came after my last release from the hospital on January 2nd of this year. As each week went by, my strength returned and my blood counts gingerly rose (with myelodysplasia and neutropenia, every little blip is a cause for celebration!). My hair crept back in. Et cetera. And when my oncologist said, "I think it's time to plan for your next Consolidation," everything inside of me shrieked, "NO!" That was my first step. I wrote about it in my former blog.

Everyone's path of healing is their own! For those who embrace orthodox or conventional methods, bless you! For those who do not, bless you also! While I believe that many M.D.s and nurses are great-hearted and wise, I firmly believe that the system as such is tragically flawed and, in many places, broken. And since no one in that system can give me a guarantee, I feel far more empowered and liberated to attend to wholeness and healing as best resonates with my soul.

If you're reading this and you have a life-threatening illness, I ask God now in prayer that you are soothed and Shepherded to a path that surrounds you in God's love.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

the ordinary steps of settling in

Well, this isn't too awful for a bit of web-purloined artwork... a colorful map of the State of Georgia USA (not to be confused with a country in the former USSR in which I could very well have distant relatives). Yes, it's a small image. Getting small is art sometimes and when I can do so, I am happier.

One of my challenges (character defects, if you will) is laboring under the psycho-yoke of projection. I can lose present moments faster than a hummingbird jets past the bright red feeder in the yard here.... all by becoming lost in a miasma of and then and then and THEN and then and....!

The Sacred Now then goes POOF! without even the opportunity to hear its little pleading bleep. It's all I have while I whirl past it.... hey wait, there's fresh sugar water in the hummingbird feeder, suppose we stopped in the summer swelter and had a nice, cool sip? No no no, gotta run run run....

That's one of the reasons I so love to sing. It makes me breathe and brings me into my body indulging in an activity I love like few others. And I did this today in a manner for the first time since last April - I sang Sacred Harp at what I was told is the oldest Sacred Harp Convention in the South, The Chattahoochee out at Wilson's Chapel in Carrollton. Since attending last summer's Camp DoReMi in the North Carolina mountains, my kinship grew with this old time singing. (I know I know, I'm mixing metaphors here by lumping Christian Harmony and Sacred Harp all in one paragraph!). In the first flush of new love, I felt a little naughty, since it was SO un-choral. "How will this help me sing better in my Church Choir?" I moaned.

How about, "... because I LOVE to do it, it's communal, it's deliciously fun, you can check your 'shoulds' at the door, it's heart-building and these songs ARE all about JESUS?"

Thanks to John P. who generously went out of his way to pick me up and drive us 75 miles each way to this glorious rural singing. I saw a few faces I remembered from last April's Atlanta Bi-Weekly singing (Matt 'n Erica's, we call it) as well as last summer's Camp DoReMi. And for those who dedicated songs to me while I was in the hospital or just staggering around right afterwards, bless YOU!

If this is "the ordinary," then what a life I have that is worth living, yes? It's a big smackin' yum yum YUM part of it. Tomorrow morning I return to a Church I had happened to stumble upon last Sunday and became quite smitten with for reasons deserving of their own post. They even have a little drop-in summer choir to coax in any shy congregants. Weekdays while my money-making work remains on hold consists of the admin of a healing life: Wrestling with a mountain of medical bills (some bogus, others not); organizing my California medical insurance policy into a live one in Georgia (don't get me started...); finding a fitness club since sometimes I don't feel like jogging (I've gone twice in the past week, woo-hoo!) when it's over 85º outside; finding an affordable and reliable car; and my 12-Step meetings, 99% of which I am finding are absolutely awesome in this neck of the woods. My host-friends Susan & Klaus are away on a well-deserved New Orleans trip, so I get to look after Fiona, Kelsey and Skye, their three sweet cats, two of whom get twice-daily meds! I tell ya, the skills I'm learning....

As well I continue my research into natural healing modalities that don't necessarily include dripping poison into my veins and destroying my current immune system while injecting another's into me and hoping it takes. I spend several hours every day exploring holistic healing. I've been taking some of these remedies for months now. I'll tell you all about them when I have 10 years under my belt and can crow with some justification. For now, it's faith and work and prayer.

When I went to Scotland in April, the possibility of death could not be pushed away. Since last October's AML diagnosis and traumatic treatments, I have had to create a way to breathe in death's possibility without awfulizing myself into a martyred crater. I'm still working on it. Unless I can release my stranglehold on my idea of God which is basically the laughable attempt at emotional blackmail - "if You REALLY loved me, I wouldn't be IN this mess, God!" - I cannot walk in peace. I don't get to escape death or even suffering. I do get to make choices however that bring me closer to Him.

It's daily intentional work, this. Today I am not only alive but feeling stronger and more vibrant than I have in a very long time. What IS it? Is it this herb? That glass of organic juice? Your sacred prayers? The Blessed Sacrament every week, which fills my heart with grateful abandon?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I think it's best however that I don't point a rigid little finger; "I know... it's THIS and I'll BOTTLE it so I can be SURE....!"

I can loosen the grip. I can breathe. I can show up.

Thank You, God and thank you, my friends.