Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sharing poetry

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of th rain
Are moving across the landscapes,
Over prairies and the deep trees,
The mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
Are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
The world offers itself to your imagination,
Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
Over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.


My head is filled with thoughts of my online friend. I will not post of her here every day, and I may not talk about her, but I think of her all the time. My thoughts and prayers are flying out into the universe on her behalf.

And yet, my life is here, going on.

I'm getting ready for Thanksgiving, and realizing of course that I'm behind before I even get started! There will be 20 at our table....that's a crowd under any circumstances! It'll be a zoo but I can't wait. The entire Surface family - except David, away at college - will be in attendance. The "kid" table will have cousins ranging from age 4 to age 22 if I remember the top age correctly...I think I'd better call it "the cousins table" instead of "the kid table" or they'll gang up on me! LOL

I am delighted to host the holiday; it's a treat to have the extended family together and with it spread through Seattle, Kirkland, Portland, Gladstone, and Spokane, and with such busy lives for all, it's not easy to get everyone together. I don't know how families spread across the country do it - we're only in two states and that is difficult enough. Our house is not at all designed for such a large group but nobody seems to mind - it will be a happy chaos.

I love traditional Thanksgiving food. This year I'm doing a stuffed turkey (slightly smaller than usual because I'm buying an organic bird, and they don't grow as large as the non-organic ones), a honey baked ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad (with pomegranate seeds, my new favorite salad), fresh cranberry sauce, and some kind of TBD veggie dish (I have a stack of magazines to go through for recipes). Since the Surface7 are vegetarian, they're also bringing tofurkey, and everyone is bringing something like pies or rolls or salads etc. We won't run out of food, that's certain.

Okay, off to get organized. Now where to begin....?

I have to pace myself. My energy levels are NOT even close to normal, so I have to figure out how to do this stuff without crashing.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Day one on WW and I'm hungry! I've eaten healthy snacks. I've discovered that two small satsuma oranges are only a half point, and I've eaten four of them today. I've eaten light string cheese and cashews in the hope that the protein would fill me up. Still, I'm hungry!

I'm trying to remember something I heard once: that hungry feeling is the feeling you get when you're losing weight.

I remember from before that the first week is the hardest, as the body adjusts to the new regimine, but after that it gets much easier.

Mondays are always new starts

This morning I am re-beginning my Weight Watchers journey. I signed up for the online program, instead of attending meetings this time. I am certain that I will have success - WW has worked so well for me in the past, and the reason that I have gained a few pesky pounds is that I have utterly ignored all of the good habits that I learned and practiced while on WW before. I plan to wear a sassy dress at New Year' shouldn't be too hard to be back to my favorite weight by then.

I am reminding myself that my risk of recurrence may be cut by 60-70% by keeping lean and fit. I am reminding myself that I am at higher than average risk for heart disease (family history and medications that I currently take), and that there is diabetes in my family, and that healthy choices will reduce those risks. I remind myself that my mind goes to dark places, and it can't help but to feel better about myself. I remind myself that at my healthiest weight, I feel more energetic, and I could really stand to feel some extra energy these days.

And here is the post that I have hesitated to write.

Last week, I learned that one of my favorite YSC members, who has the same stage breast cancer as myself, was just diagnosed with mets. Her doctors, while hesitant to put numbers on it, said that without treatment, she would have weeks left; with treatment, she has months. Two weeks ago, she was just like me. Now, she's suffering facial paralysis, liver mets, and possible mets to brain, bone, and lung. She's coming to terms with "putting her affairs in order" even as she hopes for the best.

This woman is sassy, spunky, and smart. She's a mother - her daughter is younger than Tessa. She's got energy and zest, she's incredibly sassy, and her intelligence shines through. Even though we've never met, I feel a connection to her.

The news hits me very, very hard. On the heels of Melinda's death, it hits even harder.

Many people tell me how lucky I am that I am cured. Many people tell me how fortunate it is that I was diagnosed at an early stage. Many people tell me that I am just fine. But here is the thing: I'm not cured. And early stage doesn't always mean anything.

I may live a long time. I may not. The uncertainty can feel crippling. It is baffling.

So, please remember this. I am no longer in chemo, or radiation, and I look healthy and normal and strong, but the word "cured" is not used in breast cancer. Please remember that I live with that knowledge, and that while I wish to be optimistic, and while I am hopeful, I am also fearful. The fear isn't foolish, and it can not be dismissed. Indeed, it should not be dismissed, because it is part of my reality. My fear is as real as my hope; they walk hand in hand.

Please put in a good thought, prayer, wish, or whatever you call it for my online friend. And if you have some thoughts, prayers, or wishes to spare for me as I struggle with these ideas, I would appreciate that, too.

My friend Adrienne loaned me a copy of "Eat, Pray, Love" and I'm two thirds of the way through. This book speaks to me as if it was written just for me, and the author's humor and wit in the face of her spiritual journey are refreshing and intelligent. As I struggle with my own life's questions, I'm looking for wisdom in all kinds of places, and it is helpful to hear of others' journeys.

I'm trying to eat healthfully, mindfully, consciously. I'm praying for myself and my friend. And I'm trying to love in the middle of it all. So simple, and so complicated.

Happy Monday, everyone. In Seattle it's wet and rainy, and I don't mind. I'm going to force myself to put on rainboots and take Tessa for a walk - she will jump in the puddles and Shep will strain at the leash out of the joy of being out, and it will remind me why I'm fighting so hard.