Archives for category: Identity Change and Cancer

Mammogram today….upstairs first, back down here for chest xray…new insurance card…copay 40 dollars…change in here… locker won’t work try another… here take your key Read the rest of this entry »


Once upon a time, I was riding along, listening to a radio interview with a woman who ran a summer camp etiquette school for girls, still even in the year 2009. She hosted this camp in her home each summer, teaching young ladies the social graces. As the girls followed her through a day, she was heard teaching them lesson upon lesson. A gentile sounding woman, I imagined her in very sensible shoes, immaculately appointed in Pendleton wool…perhaps a bit grandmotherly. I was mesmerized by her smooth perfect inflection saying to the girls, “We never call it a trash or garbage can, it’s always a wastebasket; it just sounds nicer that way.” Read the rest of this entry »

Like a hoarder, I collect experiences. My brain is cluttered with a snippet of a memory here, a quote there. The Gandhi and Mother Teresa bin is overflowing and I have a temporal lobe chock full of song lyrics.  As I meander through life and come across a new one, I always experience that delighted gasp that I first felt as child coming across a freshly hatched robin’s egg for the first time; enchantment at the uniqueness; wonder at the preciousness of such a delicate thing. I am awash with awe at the inherent depth of something so simple and small. As with the remnants of that soft blue, blue egg, I gently tuck my gatherings away, certain they will eventually have some use for me in the future. Certain they will serve some vital role if not now then later, as I try to make sense of the world. Certain they are gifts that deserve protecting. Perhaps these collections are the evidence of my belief that almost always the answers to life queries (both large and small) are laid before us like a field of daisies. We just have to choose not only to see them, but gather them up one by one, making in the end a whole beautiful and complete bouquet. These are indeed, my tchotchkes of the mental world.

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Last week I sat in the home of a very wise woman; okay so she is my therapist but I prefer to think of her as a wise sage, like Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas. This woman has seen me through a rather nasty and painful divorce and breast cancer, job loss and creating a new life…several times. She has held my hand through oodles of cases of the willies and frequent niggles of self doubt. I have grieved openly and rawly in her presence. And last week, after I informed her that in December I had crossed into year five of of breast cancer survival she said for the gazillionth time, “You know you have a book in you, it’s time.” “I can’t,” I whined, “I just don’t know how to tie all these things together in a meaningful way,” and she said, “Blog.”

Anne Lamott offers in her book Bird by Bird, that while growing up, her brother was once faced with the overwhelming task of writing an entire paper about birds. She writes, “…he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'” So, here standing bird in hand at the place where many of us are “immobilized by the hugeness of the task” that is breast cancer, I will begin this blog. Launching a bird at a time from my cupped and loving hands, setting them free to carry the lessons and hope and insights I have learned navigating breast cancer…after five years.

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