The Pedigree

I’ve been thinking about the women on the family tree, their circles blackened and crossed out. Elizabeth Breast, 31. Elizabeth’s cousin (name unknown): Breast, 30s. Elizabeth’s cousin (also name unknown): Breast, 30s. Diane, Breast, 44. Brain mets. 46. 

Circles signify women, and blackened circles signify cancer. Lines through them signify death.

I’ve been thinking about how we explain and classify these early deaths of four women in my family.

THE H1686R VARIANT HAS BEEN RECLASSIFIED TO ‘SUSPECTED DELETERIOUS’, MEANING IT IS SUSPECTED TO BE A SIGNIFICANT MUTATION AND IS LIKELY THE CAUSE OF THE BREAST CANCER IN DIANE’S FAMILY.

Letter to my father from Barbara Ann Karmanos Center Institute, Dated May 7, 2015, informing of newfound information on my late mother’s BRCA1 gene mutation known as H1686R.

I’ve been thinking about how names on a chart and genetic abnormalities deny a simple truth: cancer over and over again struck the symbol of feminine nurturing and sustenance–the breasts of young mothers–in my maternal lineage. 

I’ve been thinking about the assault on women’s bodies–and male bodies too. To paraphrase Eve Ensler, how patriarchy kills men in their hearts…and women in their breasts. Hearts and breasts. 

Photo of my grandmother Elizabeth

Certainly I’ve been thinking about my late mom (Diane), and the grandmother I never met (Elizabeth), and her cousins (names unknown) on the genetic chart, called a pedigree. I’ve been thinking about other women too.  Debby and Angela, two women I knew and admired, both not much older than myself, who died recently of breast cancer. Circles blackened and crossed out.

I’ve been thinking about the assault on our bodies and our land. Blackened and crossed.

I’ve been thinking about how our vitality as women and mothers is wrapped in the vitality of the earth. That waiting any longer to confront this truth is a pathology.

We can no longer deny the destiny that is ours by becoming women who wait–waiting to love, waiting to speak, waiting to act. This is not patience, but pathology. We are sensual, sexual beings, intrinsically bound to both Heaven and Earth, our bodies a hologram. In our withholding of power, we abrogate power, and that creates war. 

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS, When Women Were Birds

Advertisements

Say WHAT?!

Offspring (age 4): “When we go to the library everybody is going to say, “what’s that smell?”

Me: (Hesitate –but curiosity gets the best of me.)  “uh, what smells?”

Offspring: “You! You smell like a turtle and a hamster fighting in a trash bag.”

SAY WHAT. I BATHED TODAY KID. I EVEN USED DEODORANT.

 

Even the dog is like, say what. Exactly Parker. (He contorted himself into this position all by himself. Looney toon household I tell you.)

You Sit on a Throne of Lies!

Why is it that when you know your scale is broken you still always assume everyone else’s scale is broken and ha ha don’t they know the only accurate reading is visible only to you in the privacy of your bathroom? 

Which is to say that I bought a new scale. Guess what. MY OLD SCALE LIED. Of course it did! I knew it did but I wanted to believe otherwise. Perhaps the snug feeling in my shorts *wasn’t* just my weight “rearranging itself.” That isn’t even a thing! Weight doesn’t one day go, “Hey Herald come with me to this belly region so we can try out a new view! You know, hanging outside the top of this lady’s shorts!”

What does this have to do with anything? Well, it seems that this week is all about slaying. Not slaying as in “Beyonce is slaying on the red carpet.” Slaying as in, time to slay all the damn illusions and lies you have been telling yourself for too long.

Think you are losing weight even though your damn scale is five pounds off? SLAY.

Think you are totally cool with and have come to peace and understanding about ——>INSERT LIFE ISSUE THAT SUCKS<—???

Think that while yes those confederate monuments are gross and racist and vile you never really considered that WE LITERALLY WALK AROUND WITH MONUMENTS CELEBRATING SLAVERY AND WHITE SUPREMACY IN THE SAME WAY AS IF GERMANY HAD KEPT UP A BUNCH OF HITLER STATUES AND YELLED AT PEOPLE WHO WERE LIKE UM THOSE ME UNCOMFORTABLE???

How did I not see all this?!

That’s right, the word of the week is slay.

Slay those illusions and falsehoods. Because the truth–that is something you can work with.

The scale speaks the truth and now you can accept reality and decide maybe not to eat the large Costco bag of Veggie Straws by the fistful. 

Life is hard and painful and yet…it’s only when you face the pain that you can release it. (Phew doesn’t that feel better?)

 

The confederate monuments are turd burgers so why not replace them with something way cooler like a statue of Missy Elliot please and thank you? (You can sign to support the cause here.

Anyway, you totally got this. Go slay some dragons. Excuse me while I got throw out that old, lying scoundrel of a bathroom scale. 

 

Who are you waiting for?

who are you waiting forThe President? The congress? The reasonable republicans? The unreasonable republicans? (Oh Marco, I have you on speed dial but honey I AM NOT WAITING FOR YOU.)

Are you waiting for Bernie? Hillary? Kamala? Cory? The alt-left? (WHAT IS THIS AND I THINK I AM A PART OF IT MAYBE??)

Are you waiting for the mid-terms? Are you waiting for the tax returns? Are you waiting for an anointed leader-of-the-people to magically emerge? Are you waiting for Godot? Are you waiting for Justin Trudeau to hug you and tell you it will be OK? (PLEASE, LIKE YESTERDAY JUSTIN.) Are you waiting for Obama? (WE DID LOVE THAT TWEET.) Are you waiting for Michelle? (OMG REMEMBER MICHELLE???)

Are you waiting to “just see how it all works out?” Are you hiding until it all works out?

Are you tweeting the revolution? (THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TWEETED. BY REVOLUTION I MEAN NON-VIOLENT AND ROOTED IN LOVE MKAY? ALWAYS.)

Are you waiting for permission? Are you waiting for support? Are you waiting for the bat signal?

Are you numbing out? Are you hiding out? Are you making jokes? Are you freaking out?

Are you blocking family-who-voted-for-Trump? Are you blocking family-who-voted-third-party? (BLESS YOU MY MILLENNIAL COUSINS. I FORGIVE YOU.) Are you hiding from your neighbor who voted from Trump? (SERIOUSLY SHE BLASTS RUSH LIMBAUGH AND IT DRIVES ME NUTSSSSS.)

Are you angry? Are you scared? (YES, YES.) Are you defiant? Are you indignant? Are you usually the follower? Are you usually the leader? Are you done? Are you SO DONE you could stick a fork in it?

ARE YOU FED UP YET?

Because here is the thing: American needs you. YES, you. It was always you. (CUE THE ROM-COM CLIPS.)

You cannot do it alone – no. But listen to me: it starts (end ends) with you. 

I am here to say, dear ones, that now is the time. To speak. To move. To find your voice.

You are the ones we have been waiting for.


You might also like: Let’s use this fire-breath to bring down the patriarchy! (Or something.)

Sunrise, sunset! Wherein I (quietly) proclaim the genius of lesson #3

The kiddo was up very early today which meant one thing: I had to blog, just like old times! All those early mornings where I wrote as the sun rose. The days where writing daily was a necessary part of my routine.

I got to thinking about it all. How writing was a daily ritual of healing. Only now can I see what a courageous and life-sustaining act it truly was. Day by day, scrubbing away pain and loss. Transmuting the pain. And now, today on August 2, 2017, the fact is that there is so much less pain to transmute – the main reason I don’t feel the need to write as frequently. A good problem to have, no?

In hindsight I have so many questions for my former self. Why did you, former Sarah, take so long to start writing?  Why didn’t you start using anti-aging face cream sooner? And why oh why did you sit in that suffering place for so damn long?  (Ever notice that “why didn’t I let myself suffer longer?” has been asked by nobody ever.)

There are a lot of reasons. But mostly it is because I hadn’t learned lesson 3.

Memes, Pain, and Truth: I. You must let  the pain  visit.  2. You must allow  it to teach you  3. You must not  allow it to overstay.  Ijeoma Umebinyuo  three routes to healing Truth from @thisspirituallife

This is from the incredible Nigerian poet Ijeoma Umebinyuo. I remember the day I discovered this – I wanted to shout from the rooftops: “THIS! THIS!!!! LESSON NUMBER THREE! THIS IS WHERE IT’S AT PEOPLE! Don’t let it overstay!

(Thankfully I did not proclaim it from the rooftops. Probably good since my neighborhood is full of highly suspicious retirees who would likely bring such an incident to the attention of the HOA.)

Touch and release. Touch and release. So freaking hard. Feel the feels but don’t succumb to them. Swimming without wearing a huge heavy backpack. (It just weighs you down and plus everything inside gets wet. Who wants that?!)

It takes a helluva lot of courage to set down the backpack full of feels. Once you do, you realize what a heavy weight it had been. Really, it doesn’t need to overstay its welcome. Bye Felicia.

Anyway where am I going with this post? OH yes, sunrises, sunsets! Sunrises full of writing and healing and transmuting pain. Sunsets of saying goodbye to the pain. Lesson number three. Touch and release. Healing. Dropping the heavy backpack at the shore so you can swim. 

giphy1