Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Polished Stone

I remember in the 1970's being a little girl and discovering the art of polished stones.  My grandmother went through a phase of collecting stones from the beach, the woods, the city streets, her backyard and everywhere she walked.  She was never in a hurry and would pick up stones which looked rough and plain.  She would clean the stones and then she had access to a stone polisher that she would run the stones through.  They always came out looking so much better than when they went in.  Sometimes they had to be run through the machine more than once.  They would be a different colour and they were shiny and smooth.

As I look back over my own life so far, I can see that I was a very rough stone to begin with.  Many different challenges, traumas and storms in life have helped to smooth out some of the rough edges.  There were times as a child that I was bullied and beaten up.  At the time, I didn't understand why.  I still do not understand why I was targeted but those experiences developed a strength of character that has been a most useful trait over the years.  The various rough patches in my life have given me the ability to put my head down and plod on with determination through other challenges just like oxen with a heavy yoke attached as they pull a heavy load.  This ability is what helped me travel through my journey with lymphoma.  The determination and belief that life will always be better whatever happens has also helped me traverse the challenges of parenting teenagers.  All these difficulties and challenges continue to smooth out my rough edges and make me into a smoother, more polished stone.

I truly believe that we can all change for the better no matter how old we get.  Since being in remission, I've been actively working on improving some of the many faults in my personality.  I am not striving to be perfect, but I am trying to improve how I relate to the world in order to make life a joyful and soulful experience.  Since my fight with lymphoma, I have even less tolerance for superficial existences.  Relationships with family and friends has taken on even more importance.  I am attempting to live life fully and in the present.

Last week, I fully embraced being able to attend the Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling event.  It was tiring to say the least but life is for living fully.  I continued to work and in all my spare time, I attended as many draws as I could.  At the end of the day, my mind was willing to also go to the Heartstop Lounge for more social interaction, dancing and music but my body was unable to do this.  So I listened to the body and went home to sleep so I could fully enjoy the next day.  A few years ago, I would have just stayed at home and watched the draws on television.  It was so much more fun to be there in person.  Life is too short to decline to embrace events and create memories.  I met some new people who I truly enjoyed.  They were warm and friendly even though we won't see each other again.  I was able to meet up with some old friends and enjoy their company as well as watch some great curling.  I was able to enjoy a few evenings with my husband and as a result, I felt we drew closer than ever in our relationship.  It was wonderful to enjoy some good moments that have created warm memories to help me through whatever other challenges there are in life in the future.

As for my health, I'm still in remission and have an 85% chance of staying in remission up until December of this year.  After December, that percentage increases to 90%.  Life is good.  I consider my battle with lymphoma to be another opportunity to shave off some of the rough edges of this particular stone.  As I continue to work on smoothing the inner edges, I can see some "polishing" is beginning to take place.  We are all "gems" in the rough and I truly believe we can all live up to our polished potential.  As I finish this post, I am envisioning all my friends and family as beautiful gems which are all connected together to create a bright, beautiful and shimmering necklace.  I thank God for this necklace as it truly brightens and beautifies my own life.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Hello again

I didn't forget about my blog.  In fact I've been missing writing in it.  I've had ideas for posts.  I could have posted using my main computer but our family has only one computer in the house.  I was given a laptop for Christmas 2011 which I used for blogging.  Unfortunately my laptop needed some repairs and so I've been without it for 2 months.  I tried to post using our main computer which is also my work/office computer.  I sat there for 30 minutes or more with a blank page in front of me and I could not write even though I had ideas for posts.  I discovered my brain is kind of odd.  I was unable to be creative in my office.  It seems like I switch to my financial and organized side of the brain and I just could not write creatively at the computer.  Perhaps the office is sterile and business-like even though  it is in my music studio where I can be creative musically.  I think that I have trained my brain to be focused and efficient in that area of the room.

My laptop was returned to me just this past week, but I was enjoying life too much to post in my blog.  So here I am today.  Since my last post, I have continued to gain energy.  I feel 100% myself again except for the ability to sing and play the flute.  My energy levels are great although I still need to take care that I do not deplete them.  I am still in remission.  Around Christmas time, I decided to continue to strive to improve myself and make changes inwardly.  This has been a long process and most likely will continue to be a work in progress.

In the last year, I have recognized that my identity has always been tied to being musical and playing various instruments.  I always thought (mistakenly?) that I was unique in that I was able to play flute, piano and sing equally well at an above standard level.  When my voice and ability to play flute were removed with the onset of lymphoma, I didn't recognize that my identity had taken a major hit.  This realization occurred this past Fall when I was physically stronger and getting back to living.  At the same time, this Fall, I've had some ongoing physical issues with my right shoulder and this has affected the strength and coordination of my right hand.  In turn, my piano playing has also been affected.  Considering my self-identity and perceived public identity has been associated with being musical, my question to myself was "Now what makes me unique?"  My answer was "nothing".  I was hit with a tsunami of insecurity.  It overwhelmed me even as I continued to teach piano students, interact with family and friends.  One day in early January, I reflected upon insecurity and its impact on emotions as well as the ability to live fully.  After much thought, I realized that my own insecurity and loss of identity (however temporary) manifested itself in negative emotions.  I had an image of insecurity causing me to puff up like a puffer fish but with quills like a porcupine.  Through my insecurity I was becoming grumpy and "prickly" in an effort to protect my bashed and bruised identity.  In my private moments, I would deflate and see myself as a lost soul looking for my identity.  Since this time, I've been trying to keep the puffer fish deflated.  Unfortunately, it means tears are closer to the surface as I struggle to find my goal and use in life.

My identity is also tied into being a mother.  This has also been taking a hit as I mother two teenagers who insist they don't need me around as much.  I see them struggle with their own lives as they navigate becoming their own people.  I want to be there for them but I get pushed away.  I know this is a normal and necessary stage as they find their own identity.  I am giving them their space as I know it is in their best interests.  However, I question my value as a mother because when my children are hurting they won't allow me to comfort them.  This leaves me feeling lost.

I don't know if my searching and working for a new and improved self is the result of having cancer and then being in remission.  I suspect it is.  I know that I am impatient with myself as I want changes now.  I also want improved relationships now.  I have an urgency for everything to get better now because life is too short.  As anyone who knows me would agree, patience has never been one of my strengths.  So as I continue to work on improving myself and forging a new and better identity, I end today's post with a quote from Mark Nepo which I came across in his "Book of Awakening".  When I read this passage, I felt a peace and inner tranquility as it touched my real, inner self and perhaps even my soul.

"Slowness remembers and hurry forgets; softness remembers and hardness forgets; surrender remembers and fear forgets" - Mark Nepo