Category Archives: cancer

Tattoo

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20170613_192600I have a confession to make. I just got my second tattoo. It’s the symbol of a  lotus flower with it’s roots deep in the mud. I chose that symbol based on the Buddhist belief that without mud you will not get a lotus flower. In other words, the beauty of our life is grown out of the proverbial mud we must slog through to find what is truly important in our lives.

As a younger person I never thought I would be one to get a tattoo. Tattoo’s have certain stigmas attached to them. The person who decides to get one must be wild and even a little dangerous. There are actually some tattoos that scare the heck out of me and I would never want to meet that person in a dark alley. For some reason the tattoo says more about the person then any other attribute. But mostly it is the fact that those with tattoos agree to have a small needle jab ink into our skin to create some amazing works of art that seems to set those without tattoos apart.

Tattoos have been around since the beginning of the human existence or at least for several millennia and possibly longer. Mummified skin has been found in countries spanning the globe and in almost all societies. Tattoos could be status symbols, amulets against evil or for safe childbirth, the product of religious ceremony and culture or the result of the drunken longing of a homesick sailor for his mom. They can also be a symbol of personal rebellion against the status quo or maybe a badge of honor after a life changing experience. If life’s battle scars make one a warrior then maybe getting a tattoo to mark that battle is like a signpost on the road of that person’s life. I have seen tattoos that illustrate the struggles and triumphs that person must have experienced. Of course I have seen just as many butterflies, flowers, skull heads and hearts, random symbols that can only have personal meaning to the one wearing them.

Our family faced a crisis when my son was in high school and it was news that devastated us and thrust us into an alternate reality where the norm was long hospital stays, endless drug therapies and days on end when family members resided in different cities as we fought off that specter. We had just begun to recover from that year long event when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We faced another year similar to the one before but this time I was angry and determined to avoid the disruption we had previously experienced. That was easier said than done. Halfway through the 8 month treatment, I was not so defiant as I fought just to stay above water day to day. My son had moved on to college by that time and carpe diem was the philosophy I watched him follow. So I was not surprised when he called to tell us he was getting a tattoo. Nor was I concerned. In my mind, we had just had the very hard lesson for the past

IMG_1491 (1) two years not to sweat the small stuff and getting a tattoo was definitely in that category. My daughter started her tattoo journey by celebrating her high school graduation and then again for her college graduation.

I got my first tattoo the year after I finished breast cancer treatment. It is the Celtic symbol for healing and that’s just what I wanted for myself and my family. I often forget that I have it because it is located in a place I only see in a mirror. But I recall the prayer I offered up when that ink was being needled into my skin. And I think of the prayer I offered up when the lotus was being tattooed on me as well. Now that is in a place I can see daily so that I can remind myself on those tough days that at the end of it I am likely to find a lotus blooming. Or at least have the faith that there will be one.

Everyone has scars, the worst of which are often hidden. Perhaps tattoos are a way for some to reflect the focus, the work, the energy it takes to move beyond those scars to continue on that long and winding road of life. Tattoos are not for everyone, no doubt. There are many other ways to mark the signposts of our lives or symbolize the fights we have survived. Or to celebrate life’s beauty or the birth of a child or yes, to honor your mom. My family has chosen to wear tattoos and we all have at least one. Maybe that does make us rebellious or wild. I am okay with that if some get that impression. I see it more as my children marking the signposts of the life they have lived and are living, including that time we all traveled together to the edge of the abyss. Thankfully, there was a gloriously blooming lotus flower waiting for us there.

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Photo by vibrantskys via Pixabay

 

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom- Infinite

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via Daily Prompt: Infinite

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One of my new resolutions has been to step out of my comfort zone so this morning I decided to take on a daily prompt challenge from WordPress.  The challenge was to write about the word Infinite. Crazy to say but that word conjures up a lot of things for me. The nature of the universe. What it feels like to wait for health test results. The number of New Year’s resolutions I’ve made and broken. The love I have for my children.

It’s hard to think of time in any kind of linear manner. It’s a strange thing to look back at thousands of years of history or to imagine looking forward into the future that same number of years. Time is often categorized as infinite. But is it? Just because we can’t see the beginning or the end doesn’t necessarily make it that. So I muse on the word infinite because I am on the cusp of breaking yet another resolution 8 days into the new year. Perhaps it is my capacity to believe that one year I actually will achieve all that I have resolved to do that is infinite. Or perhaps I need to realize that resolutions in themselves, like time, are not linear.

The word Infinite also conjures up magical things. One’s capacity for love can be infinite. Imagination is infinite. Ideas seem to be infinite. The varied ways to create a product or discover a new scientific method  or publish an epic writing seems infinite. Certainly last year’s election season felt infinite, making the idea of infinite not always a good thing. But I think the beauty of infinite is that there is a promise that nothing lasts forever and there is always time to change. That the human capacity to do so is infinite in itself. That we can all reset and regroup and yes make new resolutions with each calendar day.

Looking out my window, the rain sometimes seems infinite. The same job routine can feel infinite. Time between visits to loved ones feels infinite. Sitting through a boring movie can be infinite. Yet being able to sit here and imagine all that seems infinite, I recognize, is a gift. To be able to sit in a warm home, with a cat sleeping beside me, a cup of coffee on a quiet Sunday morning, yes, with that soft sometimes infinite rain pattering on my roof and I realize my capacity for gratitude is infinite as well. DSCN0506My daily blessing of good health after a life threatening illness feels infinite. The time I get to spend, one more year, one more life event with my children feels infinitely incredible and humbling. That tiny flame of grace makes life feel infinite sometimes. And for that I am infinitely grateful. Happy January Sunday. My next resolution awaits. Namaste.

 

 

 

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Gratitude

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It was my birthday yesterday. To say that I am grateful to be celebrating yet another one is an understatement considering ten years ago I was fighting a life threatening disease. And yet each day is a blessing. Nothing is ever guaranteed, no one can count on seeing another morning. This past week has been a difficult one for my country, my friends and my family. There is so much uncertainty and fear. The unknown always holds fear, there is no doubt. Yet I take this blessing of another day to be grateful for the things I do have and to count those as well.

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. I have felt saddened these past years that the significance of this celebration has become muddled with the great opportunity for businesses to sell lots and lots of products in one fell swoop in preparation of Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving holds the ominous title of Black Friday. Black Friday encroaches more and more into Thanksgiving each year to the point where stores open for business the evening of Thanksgiving Day. This has made me very sad. This day has been set aside for us to reflect and be thankful for all that we have in this very prosperous country. Instead many are focused on the what they can buy for the cheapest prices.

And yet that in itself  is what many consider a blessing. And who I am to negate another person’s gratitude? But for me to really feel that this country has not taken, to paraphrase the infamous words of Bugs Bunny, a wrong turn at Albuquerque, I feel I must dig deep to remind myself of all that I am thankful for. Gratitude comes in stages. It comes in baby steps and in great leaps. In the silence and in the noise too. It is an attitude. One just never knows when it will appear and you have to feel grateful that it did at all.

I am grateful for life and grateful for time. For touch, feel and sight. For love and friendship even those lost ones. Life is a roller coaster. Childhood than high school then college then life, not necessarily in that order. Sometimes I was trying to navigate without a compass. Some things went so right and some so wrong. So grateful I got through safely to the age I am now with only a few scars. Oh baby it is a wild world indeed.

I am grateful for the joy and pain of parenting. Of bringing children into the world whom I could love and nurture and hover over and let go of and worry about and laugh with. Grateful for a husband and friend and partner for 34 years. Through hard times and good times and some bad times too. A lifetime and yet only a moment together. Fumbling through life holding onto each other. Grateful for his strength and love. I am grateful for the company of a cat for 15 years. His grace and beauty, his defiance. His heavy body draped across my lap for many moments of rest.

I am grateful for elders who have lived into their 90’s so that I could still feel like a beloved child when I was with them. Grateful for my tribe, for my brothers and sisters and cousins and friends. We are all in this together. For my children with their never ending lessons. For every sunrise and every sunset.  For the chance to bake some cookies. And the tools to do so.

So grateful this horrible election is over even though it left a hole in my heart where my faith in humanity had been. Grateful for the time and the chance to heal that hole and find hope again. Grateful for the right to vote. For the time to heal wounds.

There are endless things I am grateful for, many which I will keep pressed between the pages of my secret heart. Despite all, I am grateful to enjoy the full advantages of the modern world to the point where I can stay tucked up warm in my bed the day after Thanksgiving while others choose to go out in the dark to get the weekend deals in their favorite stores. We all have a choice here while many around the world cannot choose what their day may hold. And so I send that out into the world and state that we all have a responsibility to uphold our brothers and sisters here at home and around the world and pray they are granted a good life too. I am grateful for all of my blessings even those in disguise. And I light another candle for myself today.

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