Monday, March 28, 2011

Elemental poetry

I have returned to my swim routine lately, and have been reunited with my elemental needs, as I mentioned in my last post. As I swam today, letting the water envelop me and rejuvenate me, I called to mind a couple of poems I had written about the elements, and thought it was an appropriate time to post them here.

Elemental Life Forces

Earth, water, wind, and fire
All come together to fuel desire
Each in turn empowers me
To be the goddess I shall be.

Wind, water, fire, and earth,
Together produce a sense of mirth.
A union of our sacred souls
Joined as one become a whole.

Fire, earth, wind, and water,
Come together to form my daughter,
Creative forces bring her forth
So that I may prove my worth.

Water, earth, fire, and wind,
Touches all beneath my skin.
These forces are what make me whole
They breathe life into my soul.

Life force

The pool enfolds me,
Cloaking me,
Its watery depths
As my body glides,
Embracing the liquid life force
That fills the pool.

The world recedes,
As life’s base rhythms emerge,
Breath roars in my ears,
The rush of water
Entombs my senses
Shutting out all else
And stoking the fires within.

Burning, churning,
Energy courses.
A lava flow,
Roiling up from the depths,
Waiting, ready,
To spew forth its power
In awesome majesty.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elemental Needs, redux

I have been uncharacteristically silent here on my blog for some time now, as I have been struggling to make sense of the recent events and developments in my life. I must admit, I have been battling some depression in the last several months, making it difficult to focus on much beyond basic survival. So much of my process has escaped description in words, so even as I opened the blog to write, I simply sat mute, staring at the blank page.

I still find myself at a loss to explain the directions my life has gone lately, but I also know that my mind is hard at work, delving deeply for resolution. This is most clearly revealed in the intensity and symbolism of my recent dreams.

The symbolism is vivid, powerful, and evocative.

For example, the other night I dreamt that we were hosting a party, but the finished basement kept flooding, and with the water emerged flows of black beetles, all of which made me very angry as I tried to focus on our guests and keep the flooding under control (and out of sight of the guests).

Upon examination, this dream is not very difficult to interpret. The basement represents the deepest layers of my mind - the subconscious - which is being overcome by emotions (the water) that are out of control. The beetles represent forces at work against me, perhaps representing what I perceive to be deceit or trickery around me. All the while, I am desperately striving to maintain an appearance of outward calm and normalcy, as the hostess of the party. In all, not surprising, as I struggling daily to reconcile my life.

As the final term of my current employment marches ever closer to its end, I also am trying to deal with the health issues confronting me. Presently, I am in a waiting game, ticking off time until we check to see if the abnormal cells have returned.

I have never been patient, and I never deal well with uncertainty, so this three months of "wait and see" have created much anxiety, adding to my already full plate of discomfort.

In a couple of weeks, I have the test repeated and then wait for results.

In the depths of my angst, trying to keep afloat as the waves of anxiety wash over me, I have people reassuring me that things will all work out for the best. Ironically, it reminds me of the story of Voltaire's Candide, where he argues that, at each moment, "this is the best of all possible worlds." It's hard to understand how these seemingly negative situations could possibly be for the best.

And yet, I get these moments of great clarity and affirmation, in the midst of all of this junk.

Last weekend, I was blessed with a visit from my closest friend, Ellen, and her two children. We spent hours talking and sharing, hugging, and engaging in deep, make-your-belly-hurt laughter. It was an incredibly cathartic experience. My deepest angst took a much needed break and allowed me to reassess the blessings that surround me. It felt good, especially as Saturday was the "largest" full moon of the calendar year.

Ellen and my moon recharged me, giving me the energy to continue.

This week, I have returned to swimming. Even after a LONG hiatus, due mainly to my health, I was able to complete my regular routine without too much difficulty. Ironically, this return to swimming was not as soothing as I had anticipated, and I believe it is because I spent too much time away.

The lessons of this week have to do with being true to ourselves and to each other.

I have pledged to continue swimming. I have even committed it to my planner, making it harder to make excuses for not getting there. I have also pledged myself to feeding my other elemental needs as well.

Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Together these are the elements which must be balanced for us to reach a sense of equilibrium.

My weekend with Ellen reawakened my awareness of these elemental needs.

We sat for hours beside a gorgeous fire, watching the dancing flames and embracing its glowing warmth. We saw the full moon and felt its energy charging the air. I felt the hard earth beneath my chilled feet, supporting me. And I returned to the waters that embrace my very being and give motion to my soul.

So, this week, even as we face more difficulties and sorrow around us, I remain committed to these elemental forces and recognizing their role in helping me cope. The universe is not always calm, but it is always readjusting itself to remain in balance.

Here's to maintaining balance.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"What now?"

As I wrote about in my last post, I have been experiencing some health issues of late, culminating in a surgical procedure before Christmas. I had to wait an agonizing three weeks to get the pathology results back. The fact that they did not simply call and say “everything is fine,” made me quite anxious about the findings.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor to review the results. They were not positive.

It turns out that I have Stage Zero Cervical Cancer. Now we play a waiting game, but most likely it will mean a hysterectomy, most likely some time this summer.

The good news (ha!) is that it has not yet spread, and they appear to have gotten the infected cells with the procedure. Now we wait, and in three months, I get retested to see if the cells have returned. If they have, the next step is the hysterectomy. Statistically, the odds are very high that the cells will return.

I admit, my first response was “Why me?”

I came home, told my husband the news, and proceeded to wallow in self-pity for the rest of the night. I enjoyed a huge crying spree, and I spent the evening in bed with our pets. I thought about the finality of this diagnosis in terms of my ability to have a child. I worried that I would be left all alone. I let myself be despondent.

This morning, though, I woke and tried to look at it from another perspective.

I have always believed that things happen for a reason in our lives. There is a greater purpose at work, challenging us and driving us to do particular things during our time here. And, I recognized, that greater purpose is not always immediate clear to us. Sometimes, it is never clear. But it is always there.

So, I started to think about this recent set of events, and asked not “Why me?” but “What now?”

As cancers go, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. We have caught it early. It is treatable and I can expect a very high survival rate after the surgery. This is good news.

This diagnosis does come at a rather difficult time in my life, as I am transitioning out of my old career and trying to find a new path to follow. I reflected this morning that perhaps this set of events has come to give me greater insight regarding my new opportunities.

I have always had issues with control over my life, never liking uncertainty, and I have needed to know exactly what was going to happen next. This past year, both the loss of my job and this new diagnosis, are challenging that need. I could fret and stew and worry over what exactly tomorrow, or next week, or next month will bring, or I can live for each day and be grateful for the boundless joys that surround me.

Things have always had a way of working out. Sometimes, they didn’t work out the way I anticipated, but they always took me forward, made me stronger, made me a better person.

My current position is what brought me to Erie, an event that led me to my husband Dave. For that I am eternally grateful.

Now it is time for me to move on, with Dave by my side of course, and find my next purpose in life. The current diagnosis and my prognosis suggest to me that perhaps I need to be looking in new directions for the future. As I head into the next several months, my new mantra will be “what now?”

“What new opportunities can I see around me?”
“What will this new day bring me?”
“What can I do now to overcome the challenges that lie before me?”
“Why me” has been relegated to 2010. “What now” is the motto for 2011.

Will you join me?