Wake-up calls

I write daily and have started asking for a daily mantra from my highest self. I’ve been amazed by what I’ve been able to tap into. They can be and very often are nurturing, encouraging, gentle. But this week they’ve been demanding more of me: just like any loving mother or guide. Message received highest self! Time to get to work!! (Also for anyone astrologically inclined, its very fitting for the shift from Pisces to Aries!)

from Instagram story @justfollowthejoy

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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

The Girl Who Sat in Trees

Before there were synced calendars and day planners and even before there were trapper keepers, there was a little girl who sat in trees. She sat in the trees for what felt like hours, though it might have been mere minutes. She dreamed, journal-ed and sketched. She transported to a place of joy and bliss, cradled in the crooks of maples and oaks, conversing with imaginary beings.

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Creative Commons license “CentreOfAttention” .

Eventually the little girl grew up and as happens, she stopped sitting in trees. She loved her art and writing and singing, but she was so very good at accomplishing what was asked of her –grades, scores certificates and awards–that little by little the doing and achieving overtook the being and dreaming. Sure, there were times she held on tightly; she traded calculus for art class, she filled nearly three dozen personal journals, and she took an art class here or there even as an adult. But no doubt, over time she shifted. She was a girl with goals and one day even the art was remembered as the silly musings of a child; the dreaming became purely the intellectual kind.

Nobody told her to put down the paint brush. They didn’t need to. She was a good rule-follower and she understood the unspoken rules of a world that stood in direct opposition to the place in the trees.

And so it was that decades later she found herself at the finish line all burned out and dried up. Even then she didn’t understand why. She was doing her very best to practice self-care and find balance within the system. She followed her heart within this system. She defied norms within this very system! So why wasn’t it working? What she didn’t know then is that no system–even this artificial world dominated by deadlines, goals and outputs, where rest was seen as a means to at some point get more done–did not exist outside the laws of nature. As far removed as she was from those trees of her childhood, the moon still waxed and waned above her. The seasons turned. The oak rested in winter and sprouted leaves in spring. Try as she might to will herself to make it work–to power through as she had always done–simply no longer worked because the answers would never be found in the wasteland.

The Heroine’s Journey

The Wasteland burns us up and burns us out. Instead of following your own instincts, instead of discovering what it is that gives us joy, what makes our heart sing, we spend most of our lives trying to make other people happy…living from our head rather than our instinct for what is good and healthy.

[…]

The Heroine’s Journey for these times is a journey out of the Wasteland. Each of us has our own unique set of stories to tell: the story of the years we spent in the Wasteland, the story of our awakening, and the story of the path we took out of it.

~Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted

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. 

 

Pausing to enjoy the view

Today I officially became a member of my community’s Unitarian Universalist church.  It is the first time I can say wholeheartedly that I feel spiritually at home with a people, a congregation, a larger community.  It is wonderful. 

The road to this day was both immensely painful and at the same time full of more grace than I’ve ever experienced.  I joined shortly after having a miscarriage, and still on the heels of the loss of my mom.  

As I was thinking about how to even begin to describe this journey, a flow chart idea popped into my head. So I started doodling and diagraming. I’m going to share it tomorrow and plan to blog about it all week. I invite you to share your own stories (or diagrams!) too. 

Until then, a moment to savor the fruits of much hard inner work. There was a time when faith alone that this too shall pass was all I held onto. It felt impossible. It wasn’t, and it did pass, and only makes the joy in my heart today that much sweeter. 

up tomorrow, a map of healing