Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Do Be Do Be Do

About a year and a half ago I attended my first official meditation retreat. It was with Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center. Prior to this, I was what would be described as a "crisis meditator" tapping into the practice at the most expected of times (ie: New Year's resolution) or the most desperate times (ie: overly stressed, overwhelmed, etc).  My decision to attend the retreat was a poorly timed and illogical given all of my other commitments, but there was a feeling, an indescribable guidance that was beyond me, and I knew I simply had to go. I now know, that feeling was my spirit, my higher self, G_d, (I'm still not quite sure how to describe this presence, but I'm certain it is there) and as I reflect on this past year, I can see that was the guiding force that I'm pretty sure saved my life.

I remember the first day of the retreat, we were given our own personalized mantra and then told to go meditate for 20 minutes.  What? What do you mean? Just start meditating? I needed more information. I needed to be guided. I needed someone to do it for me.  But as I quickly learned, meditation is not about the moments of enlightenment, but the discomfort of the unknown. It's taking that first sitting of 20 minutes and repeating the mantra. It's continuing to peek one eye open and see how much longer. It's recognizing the chaos of our thoughts.  Once we start to become AWARE of the chaos of our psyche, that's when you introduce the mantra, repeatedly, over and over and over. And sure enough, the 20 minutes are complete. Over time, that 20 minutes becomes 30, 40, 50 - sometimes twice a day. Other times, it just a few moments.  The gifts of meditation are not necessarily in those moments of sitting, but through the discipline of the practice however chaotic, we become more present for the rest of the moments in our day. We begin to take more pauses, we begin to notice our reactive nature, we may begin to act with more patience, more compassion, more love. Or at the very least, we are simply more aware and from awareness breeds change.

There has not been one day that has passed over the course of this year that I have not meditated. Even if it was for just a few moments, I looked to my mantra as my grounding, my centering. I explored different types of mediation (ie: visualization, metta, and others I hope to share). Regardless,  I am convinced it was my discipline leading up to my diagnosis and then the embracing the practice even in the most dire moments that has simply been my saving grace and provided the sense of awareness to listen to my body, to hear the whisper of my spirit, and to surrender, simply surrender.

As I try to make sense of what just happened over this past year, I find myself recalling the words of Deepak Chopra during a question and answer session during that retreat a year and half ago. Ironically, I remember a woman who was actually a breast cancer survivor got up and expressed her frustration over not feeling the peaceful and enlightened moments during her meditation that she expected. What was she DOING wrong? What could she DO to change the nature of her practice? What could Deepak DO to help her?

And with his iconic glasses and his present nature,  Deepak simply shared with the woman that you recognize your thoughts of DOING and then you BE with them. You DO and then you BE. You DO BE DO BE DO.  And then the most delightful giggle emerged from this wise modern day guru.

I'm reminded of this moment frequently lately and using it as my daily mantra as I continue to step more fully into myself everyday.

With the holidays literally upon us, I wish everyone the gift of presence and pause. To find some light, love, and goodness that exists in some capacity for each of us and simply BE with it. Trust me, this is the good stuff...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What Just Happened? - The Official Book

Thank you to Kelly Curnow for capturing, compiling, crafting and caring so much to put together this most gracious gift. I'm touched beyond words and grateful for this metaphorical + literal bookend. #movingon #newbeginnings 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Stepping Forward

I'll be honest, it's been a pretty emotionally challenging time following my treatment. While I expected to be elated that my treatment was over, what I encountered is that EVERYTHING about my treatment was over.  The constant attention. The focus. The community I visited weekly that nurtured me. While it took some time, I grew accustomed to these things and without them I was disoriented.  Despite still being surrounded by so much love and support, I was on my own and living the life of a survivor.

All of these feelings were validated during my "survivorship" appointment with my Doctor a week ago. During our time together she spoke about the sense of loss that follows treatment and simply acknowledged that without the focus of the weekly treatments, our emotions have freedom to finally express the trauma we have experienced physically and emotionally, and the importance of exploring different channels of support (which I am).  And it was at that moment that I realized I am in mourning. Not just over the loss of who I was prior to my diagnosis, but the loss of the community that I came to love and rely on during my treatment.

As I emerge back into the world, I find myself wanting to just let people know that I have in fact survived cancer.  I keep saying it repeatedly almost as if I'm trying to convince and remind myself. Not just what I overcame, but the gifts that I discovered. I've felt overwhelmed with the past but uncertain of my future. I've felt paralyzed as to how to move forward, knowing I am forever changed.

Just as I was experiencing this realization of my journey, a dear friend (thank you Jen Spencer) introduced me to a book called Second Firsts by Christina Rasmussan. In it she talks about the "Waiting Room" where we are in between the past of our old selves but have not yet stepped into our new world order.  It's safe in the Waiting Room  and kind of hard to leave.  Let's just say my waiting room is super cozy, so I could totally relate.

It just so happened that the author was speaking at my local bookstore so I went to hear her.  She shared her own story of loss and the amazing transformation she has experienced in her life by having the courage to really honor the grieving process and start to re-engage with life in a conscious and loving way. It was inspiring and reminded me that perhaps the best is yet to come. It allowed me to peak beyond the window of my waiting room and see a future where I was living a life of love, vitality, light, grace, ease, mindfulness, creativity, joy, laughter, and spark!  All the things that I discovered at such a monumental level throughout my treatment were manifesting in this future life but without the illness and treatment as the catalysts. I also learned through this book, that while I was now technically deemed a survivor, my survivor self had served its purpose of protection and I could let her go.  With her release and shedding of that armor, I can start to feel the tickle of my new regenerating cells and sprit percolating with light, sparkle, and shine as they begin to breakthrough into the world.

Now the challenge is having the courage to open the door into this new life and all the uncertainty that it holds.  But if there is one thing that this year has taught me is that I can do uncertainty. Or rather I can BE with uncertainty.  It's in the uncertainty where being present (if we allow it) provides the space so we can discover new things about ourselves that we never knew possible and live from that place of faith and grace. And for me, that is kind of the adventure.

I had Christina sign my book and we spoke for a few moments. She looked straight in my eyes and said "I see that sparkle in your eye, and you need to know that you have such unbelieveable gifts waiting for you and a beautiful life ahead that you can't even imagine." I was overcome by her empathy and validation. But more importantly, I believed her.

And so I start with small steps forward knowing that they will become bigger, more frequent and fuller everyday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lashing Out

One of the things I have been most proud of on this journey has been my ability to stay present and focused. I was intentional as I went into my surgeries and treatments. I powered through when I needed to and I surrendered when all else failed. No expectations, just being present and patient. I honored every step of this journey and have been grateful for all the lessons I have learned.

Well it seems all of that "chemo wisdom" has vacated the premises momentarily. I had some serious unrealistic expectations about my road to recovery. I had this vision that the day after my last chemo I would be ready to party and get going with my "new normal." Sure I had additional appointments, treatments, and surgeries ahead of me, but for the love of G_d look at what I just accomplished, I'm a freakin' rock star - right?  I thought my hair would be like a supercharged chia pet and I would have my super cute pixie cut and my fantastic brows + lashes in a week. I thought I would be inspired to write everyday and engage with work with a new enthusiasm. I thought I'd have the strength to get back to my hot yoga class. I thought I would have the energy to call back and spend time with all the people I love who I haven't been able to connect with these last several months.

And then I had my follow-up appointments with my doctors and was informed that I am now entering the "survivorship" stage which is described as "the most difficult part of the journey" for many women. I heard potentially 2 years until I reached the physical and mental stamina I remember.  And I learned lots of other overwhelming facts and emotional realities about this new phase of the journey.


As if right on cue, the universe quickly reminded me to take pause. My ego yet again has been put in its place with a good dose of perspective. I feel like a baby who has had too much tummy time and simply fizzles out.

It has been 3 weeks and let's just say my vision of recovery described above was a much more manic depiction of my reality today. Those lessons of being present and patient - still needed. Letting my body set the pace and continue to nourish my body, mind and spirit - still a priority. The gift of being guided and protected - still my place of comfort. Kindness and gratitude to myself and others - absolute non-negotiables. I'm beginning to think that these lessons weren't about chemo or cancer - but about life.

From a vanity perspective, the hair is more of an intense peach fuzz vs. the chia pet. The brows and lashes are growing back probably at a rate of one per day - literally, one freakin' hair.  Instead of the hot yoga, I'm taking cool short walks in the crisp fall air as I gain my strength and stamina. And I am connecting with the people I love and have missed, just at a slower pace.

While disorienting, I realize I am in fact a "survivor" now and am reminded everyday of the gift I have been given. The grace of  my spirit continues to speak in the hushed tone of love, grace, compassion, and gratitude as a constant reminder of all that I am capable.

Its been an exhilarating, exhausting and bumpy road to recovery thus far. However, I'm embracing the physical + mental transformation and transmutation that I'm witnessing everyday. And thank goodness I didn't throw out those fake lashes:-)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Just Happened?

I think I may have had a dream.
I remember it was Valentine's Day and something shocked me to my core. I cried. I remember trying to control, like I was captain of a ship. Lots of people around me were scared. I was scared.  I remember lots of information and being overwhelmed, and then something kicked in - a profound, mysterious, and unknown thing. The control faded and surrender kicked in.  
I think there was a hospital and some pain and discomfort. I remember the surprise smile on my Doctor's face when she looked at my chest and feeling relieved. I remember lots of people who I love, respect and care for surrounding me. I remember feeling worried and scared. And then again that same feeling appeared - that profound, mysterious and unknown thing. The self judgement and angst dissipated, my receiving muscled flexed, and love kicked in.  
I remember needles, lots of needles. I remember feeling nauseous and scared. I remember lots of bad TV, I mean REALLY bad TV (ie: Breaking Amish).  I remember heaviness in my body. I remember looks of worry and concern when people looked at me.  And then that same thing kicked in - that profound, mysterious, and unknown thing. Then laughter, friends and family, walking and doing pilates brought a new sense of joy.  And pancakes, I remember lots of pancakes.  
And then I remember a final needle prick, a celebration, a bell. A profound connection to the the deepest part of myself. A self comprised of love, forgiveness, compassion, wisdom, self-confidence, humility, massive humility. And a knowingness that I am forever changed, forever guided and protected, forever loved and loving, and forever reminded to always stay present to the moment. 

And then I woke up! Wide awake. Now what? 

The truth is I'm in a confused state where mentally I know I'm done with this phase, but physically I'm still feeling pretty crummy. Medically, I still have a bit of a road ahead with a new daily medication to be taken for the next 5-10 years and reconstructive surgery. 

So I believe the opportunity now is slowly stepping back into the world with the lessons of my treatment to inform the road of my recovery. I'll take it day by day. I'll pause with more purpose. I'll continue to nurture my body with what it desires in this new regeneration phase. I'll meditate. I'll embrace gratitude and presence when I'm with others. I'll look forward to experiencing more of myself. And I'll write the words that have been given as gifts  to remind me of something much greater than myself is at play - that profound, unknown, and mysterious thing that's been with me all along.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I'm not sure if it is the realization that my chemo journey is quickly coming to a close (with another surgery to follow). Or the influx of breast cancer data and awareness in my face since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Or perhaps it is the fact that the cumulative effects of the chemo are taking its toll, but suddenly I am a blubbering mess and finally embracing the sucky nature of these last 8 months. It's as if hindsight has moved in and become the wise old teacher.

So many people have commented on how positive I have been throughout this process. But the truth is, it hasn't been about being positive.  It's been about being present. Doing whatever I need to exist in the current moment. While I would like to take credit for this present moment awareness, it's really been my body that is calling the shots, I've just mentally gotten out of the way. And to be honest, I think it is actually a bit of a survivor's technique. Now that I am approaching the end of this part of the journey, it's as if my psyche is finally allowing me to process.

It was always important for me to share my journey. Not for everyone else, but for myself - as a depiction and a reflection of what I have endured. I can look back at the first Facebook post after my surgery and feel proud that I was up and around after just one week. But I can also remember the pain that kept me up and night and the nauseating process of dealing with my drains on a nightly basis and crying myself to sleep wondering how I would make it through.

As I reflect on the posts following my chemo sessions, I can laugh at my quirky posts about foods, TV shows and the importance of counting down the sessions. But, I am also reminded of the days when I couldn't leave my bedside and how important that countdown was.  Or how it took every ounce of mental energy to power through the nausea to down that lentil soup.

I can look at pictures of my sweet puppy Buck as a reflection of the joy that literally got me up in the morning. And I can embrace that with all of the amazing love and support of my many friends and family surrounding and supporting me, most nights, it was just me - and sometimes that was really scary.

While I can see vibrancy in my face as I look at pictures with friends and family, I also see someone I don't really recognize. With all of love I have discovered for myself and others from a much deeper and authentic place, sometimes I just see a sick person. A bald,  browless, eylashless, dry, sick person where my tears are the one constant reminder of my release and my surrender.

This hasn't been about putting on a brave face, this has been about reminding me how I have confronted my deepest darkest fears and in the process found moments of profound grace, love, faith and compassion for myself.  It is the moments that I pray become the mainstay to keep me guided, focused, and connected to the deepest part of myself as I move forward in life. I also welcome the ebb and flow of it all.

I have no idea what lies ahead for me. For better or worse, I am forever changed. While cancer has not defined me, it has transformed and transmuted me. I am now walking in the world with a new skin and a new perspective and a glimpse of the higher version of myself radiating through my eyes.  I am proud and I am humbled. I trust this is a temporary state and that in no time I will be in a new state of rediscovery as my body celebrates the welcoming of so many of the things I have lost. But as my Buddhist therapist keeps reminding me, sometimes we just have to "be in it." So for just a few more weeks, I am embracing and learning to love the "ugh."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear Vanity

Dear Vanity,

Oh goodness, you are a confusing one. I never thought of myself as a vain person, but anyone who knows me, would probably give a polite balk. I like most people enjoy a good selfie, and can appreciate a good "look at me" moment.  But I'm pretty sure I have been doing those things out of trying to prove myself to others and looking to others to validate what I couldn't validate for myself.

I actually think having a certain element of vanity is important, and believe there is a fine line between self respect/love + willingness to take care of oneself and trying to prove yourself.  However, I have learned that like your bestie the "ego," you are often times driven by fear. And if there is one awareness touch point on this entire journey thus far, it's that fear is just another form of love, or rather unwillingness to let love in.  And when it comes to my healing journey, love + gratitude are the guides. With that in mind, I am learning to love and embrace all aspects of myself and that includes the ego as a driver to bring me to my personal edges and provide those moments to choose fear or love - simply.

From day 1 of this journey, I have wanted to understand cellularly what is happening in my body. What does the disease look like? How does it want to grow? What is the chemo doing?  As a result I am able to understand things at a much more visceral level and it has been a great gift.  It has flipped my intention around doing most things in my life from what I think I "should" be doing to what will provide the most support, nourishment, and love to my body, mind and spirit. And so as we navigate our new relationship with this awareness, I wanted to thank you for some of the gifts and lessons you have taught me along the way.

Working out/Exercise: When I was a pilates teacher, I was surrounded by mirrors all day and with clients that primarily concerned and complaining about their bodies. It was a breeding ground for self criticism. While I always was very disciplined in my workouts, I think I was doing it out of  fear of gaining weight or just something I was supposed to do.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: It's about providing movement in my body so my cells get oxygenation, so my muscles can get strong and in turn provide a welcome environment for the chemo to move through, do it's job and get on its way.  I do it because it makes me feel strong and appreciate how my body is working with me and from a place of love. And when someone compliments me on how I look, I simply say THANK YOU and try to take pause and receive it (well, I'm trying to at least:-)

Nutrition and Nourishment: Similar to working out, I was always a disciplined eater, again, primarily driven out of a fear of either gaining weight, following the latest fads or doing just what I was supposed to do.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: I understand nourishment on an entirely visceral level. I notice the difference when I'm eating the things that I know nourish my cells so they can do their job and have  learned to appreciate the food that wants to enter my body.  Ironically, it's not just about eating the healthy foods which I do enjoy, but savoring the cravings of the comfort food and sweets for they are coming from a nurturing place for me. The nausea and now losing my taste buds has been one of the greatest challenges for me thus far, so when there are periods of time when it seems impossible to ingest, I find a greater appreciation for doing what I can to eat because I understand how important my body needs the nourishment. And on the upside when I'm not nauseous, I can enjoy food on an entirely new level. 
Hydration: To be honest, I never even thought about hydration as something to do. I just naturally drank alot of water. But when water took on an indescribable taste after my first chemo session, I realized that I had taken water for granted.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: Water is they key to flushing the system.  Due to the challenge of the taste factor I have tried every possible iteration of water. Water at room temperature no ice in a glass. Sparkling water with ice no glass. Ice cold water no ice in water bottle. Only ice in a glass. No ice in a water bottle.  I am still constantly exploring and the only thing I have found that helps is drinking from a straw.  And I'm committed to getting the stuff down. And let me just say, YOWZA my skin looks good. Another huge gift has been that of moisturizing. The artistry of nourishing my skin has become such a sweet nightly ritual for me as I my skin is simply craving the attention to stay hydrated, soft and smooth after being put through the ringer with treatment. 
Embracing my inner fashionista: Before the "Big C," I think I always knew I had an appreciation for fashion and girly things like makeup and shopping, but I was maybe a little ashamed of it for I think I feared it made me superficial or maybe I just wasn't confident in my own sense of personal style.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: Whereas I think many people use this journey to feel comfortable in the stripped down moments which you are simply forced to do, I have also embraced that putting on make up, following trends, and even shopping is a real creative expression of beauty that I have never let shine. I mean, who knew the gift I had with scarves:-) I have great role models in this space who I think I fully never appreciated, and see this as a new way to spend time appreciating myself. I too have discovered a deep and profound love for myself in the stripped down moments - because at the end of the day, I'm pretty sure for me that is my greatest hurdle. Seeing that light shine in both the beautified moments and the stripped down ones - literally. Looking in the mirror and loving myself as my few eyebrows and eyelashes struggle to claim their space as well as finding the joy and artistry of being able to use just a little bit of eye pencil/shadow to simply work wonders.
So vanity - I look forward to building our new relationship from one of fear to one of love. Doing things together because it brings us joy, nourishment and creativity. You most recently taught me this lesson when I attended an event in LA - surrounded by fashion mavens of which I would need to present and speak in front of. I was feeling conflicted because in many ways I feel more beautiful on the inside now than I ever have before, but I also wanted to feel fashion forward and to simply feel like my bald head and thinning eyebrows and eyelashes wouldn't be a factor.  So on the great advice of so many friends, I invested to have my makeup done - and what a difference it made. Who knew just a few additional eyelashes and some great foundation could enhance my inner shine even more.  And most importantly make me feel beautiful, confident and radiant.

I trust this is the beginning of a new and profoundly joyful relationship as I will continue to share the "look at me" moments not for anyone else, but for the pride and love I feel in taking care of myself and wanting to share this with other people I love .

As always, with love and gratitude ~ Paige

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pay Attention!

Dear Paige,

You have written several lovely letters to me which I appreciate. However, as your body, I have a few things to say.

First of all, why the fuck did you wait so long. I know you felt that lump for months before you sought a doctor. And I am aware of all the excuses, "It's nothing, I'm traveling, so and so needs me, I'm just stressed, I'm on deadline, etc."  All bullshit. You of all people who claim to have such a mind body connection should know better.  I love you, but come on..

Secondly, I will admit you have demonstrated an uncanny ability to be present with each step in this process. However, I just want to acknowledge that it has been really fucking hard.  We have been taken to physical depths that no person should have to encounter.  I too am grateful that our spirit is as strong as it is to not have gotten lost in those moments, and you have been so brave, but can we please just recognize that we at least are experiencing those moments.

Thirdly, can you please cut us a fucking break.  You keep trying to push the boundaries of what you think we "SHOULD" be doing, but can we please eliminate that word from our vocabulary and embrace that we are in a time warp where our only priority is to focus on feeling good, being surrounded by people we love and who love us, and putting energy to situations that light us up - PERIOD.  Everything else will be there at the end of this or not, but its out of your control, so please,  lighten up on yourself for the love of G-d.

Finally, in the future please just promise to listen to me and pay attention - you are worth it. There is so much we have learned together over these last six months and I too am grateful.  I have learned that we really are a team along with your spirit, and together we will always be your greatest teacher to provide exactly what you need.

I love and respect you in such profound ways. And while I know my language is harsh and my tone is angry, I am so proud of you. You are taking each moment as a great lesson to be learned and soaking up all you can, and this is a gift.  Keep your eye on the prize sweet girl and I'm with you every step of the way.

By the way, can you please pass this "PAY ATTENTION" message along to all of your family and friends. You would be doing a huge favor for bodies everywhere.

Love you so much ~ Your body

ps. Apologies for repetitive use of the word FUCK - but don't you just feel better when you say it:-)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Birthday Bravado

When I was younger, we would spend many summers in Hawaii where my aunt, uncle and cousins lived. I can recall several birthdays there as my sisters and I all have summer birthdays.  We always had these extravagant cakes that had a Hawaiian them.  They are some of my brightest and joyous childhood memories.  

Having just celebrated my 39th birthday, I have been appropriately distracted. And what a relief it is.  My birthday fell perfectly two days before I began my 2nd regime of weekly Taxol chemo treatments. So I was on an upswing in terms of energy and recovery.  I dare to say that even a few days went by where I did not even think about chemo.

I admittedly was dreading this birthday. I didn't want to be THAT girl - chemo girl on her birthday.  But, I did some serious soul searching and realized that this was perhaps the most important birthday of my life. I mean I was alive - literally. While I have maintained a positive attitude throughout this process, the fact remains that I have had to face mortality on an entirely new level. It's an existential scenario that is difficult to describe. And as cliche as it sounds, cancer brings an important perspective and appreciation regarding the preciousness of life. I realized that this was a day to celebrate not just this past year, but to look to the future and enjoying life on an entirely different level. And I can officially say it was the BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.  

It was a combination of so many things. Being pampered with a spa day, having my sister visiting from New York, and most importantly hearing from so many friends and family who I love so much and have been my energetic safety net.  But, it was also something else.  I realized that all of the mental, physical, and spiritual challenges of the last 6 months were preparing for the most important birthday gift of all - the gift of receiving.  I realize that all of it has been a training ground that took being stripped down of so much to ultimately burst my heart wide open. As a result,  I am able to receive love, support, and guidance in a way I have never felt capable of.  

It feels giddy and joyous and for this I am grateful. While I did not get the dramatic Hawaiian cake this year, I received the most delicious cupcake accompanied by a $600 bottle of Cristal sent over to my friends and I from a complete random stranger who somehow recognized it was my birthday.  The kindness and generosity from this stranger was such a beautiful gift both in a tangible and DELICIOUS form, as well as a gracious gift from the universe which I interpreted as an "Atta Girl" and to keep me motivated for the remainder of my journey. 

So onward and upward we go, with the gift of gratitude as my guide. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stop and Smell The Roses..Literally

While I've been doing relatively well on my  journey thus far, there have been a few minor set-backs which at the time seemed devastating, but are simply a reminder to take it one step at a time.  Literally, ONE. FREAKIN'. STEP.  And a good reminder to simply "stop and smell the roses." 

Fortunately, this has been a practice I have been able to perfect in one of the most generous gestures I have ever experienced thanks to my cousins who all gathered together and arranged to have weekly flowers delivered to me since my diagnosis.  They usually arrive on Mondays which for some reason are always the most difficult days. Each delivery is accompanied by an inspirational quote of some sort. And the quote always seems to provide the perfect sentiment/inspiration/encouragement.   This week's quote is perhaps one of my favorite and so relevant for where I am at the moment (can I get an amen!):
"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain." ~Dolly Parton 
This weekly gift literally brightens my day and spirit. But more importantly, it reminds me of the energetic safety net that is supporting me from all my friends and loved ones.

As I approach my halfway point on the journey, I am learning to dig deep and embracing that this is hard, really really hard. For me, this means surpassing all the things I think I'm supposed to do, and simply going to the place where I don't know what the hell to do.  No blame, no expectations, no judgements, just surrender and love. And thus, where I naturally tap into this energetic safety net.

And for the times I forget this important lesson,  I have the roses to remind me, and I literally take time to smell them. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY

To my cousins, thank you for one of the most precious gifts ever. You are my brothers and sisters and such beautiful reflections of graciousness and love that are fueling me on this crazy journey.

With infinite love and gratitude ~ Cousin Paige

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dear Naptime..

I have fond memories of our time together when I was a child. I can remember the exact smell and pattern of my nap mat in kindergarten.  However through the years, I lost the art and joy of napping. As a typical (and now recovering) Type A personality, napping simply didn't fit into my schedule and became hard to justify.

However, as cumulative effects of my treatment take hold and energy deficits become the norm, I have been forced to get to know you in a new way.  I can't help but feel a little weak and lazy. But on the flip side, I also embrace the nurturing and child like nature that you can bring. I have come to value the importance of sleep as it relates to the tremendous cellular generation and efforts that my body is undertaking.

Regardless, I realize that there truly is an art to napping.  I can't help but feel a little envious as I look at those around me (you know who you are) who have mastered this art with great joy and productivity.  But it is through their success, that I realize that there are some simple guidelines that can help us newbies excel.

  • Couches don't count: As I am learning, while a couch snooze can be nice, if you are really intentional on being a master napper, you gotta get off the couch and into the bed.  However, if you must lay on the couch, it helps to have golf on in the background. 

  • Fully commit: Draw the shades, and get under the sheets. This isn't the time to go half assed. Create the environment to let your snooze succeed. 

  • Dress the part: A naptime outfit is key. It doesn't have to mean full pajamas, but a transition from your daily clothes into something comfy is imperative which I can TOTALLY get behind. 

While these guidelines from loved ones are helping, I realize like most things on this journey, it's about exploring and taking it one step at a time. For now, my priority is to listen to my body and when it craves some sleepy time, I am here to serve. And as far as role models who excel at the art of napping, I think my sweet puppy Buck is the best teacher of all.

Looking forward to getting to know you more naptime.

With gratitude ~ Paige

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dear Body + The Big Bald Reveal

Dear Body,

Yowza, we have been through the ringer.  While I know we still have a ways to go with the chemo, I feel like on our macro level journey starting at the time of diagnosis, we are probably at our half way point. So I wanted to mark the milestone with a big ole' hearty thank you.

I never knew what you were capable of.  I have been focusing so much of the last few years of my life on the emotional and spiritual aspects of myself, that I feel like I may have neglected you.

But to have this recent bubble of time where we can solely focus together with the mind and spirit in equal partnership, has simply been a gift.  We have been poked, prodded, pumped, pricked and literally pulled - yet made it through.  And it is through the pain, awkwardness and new found connectedness that I feel like I am getting to know you for the first time.

Knowing that we have the second half of the journey waiting just around the corner, I want you to know that I will continue to treat you with the utmost respect and love. I will nourish you with the foods you crave and will fuel you for the road ahead.  But most importantly, I will continue to be open to the lessons you teach me - regardless of how difficult they may be.

Thanks to you, when I look in the mirror I see and feel a a magical blend of innocence, confidence, strength, light and beauty that I have never known before. It's either irony or the most precious gift from the universe that it took being stripped of so much (hair, boobs, etc) to discover this. Either way, I'll take it.

With love and gratitude sweet body - Thank You!!

Love ~ Paige

ps. extra thanks for a good shaped head:-)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Henayne - HERE I AM!

I was super shy as a kid.  I hated it when people looked at me and I never liked to look people in the eye. When my sisters really wanted to get to me, they would just stare at me. Being the typical youngest child, I would tattle tale and yell to my Mom, "Missy and Megan are looking at me," and my Mom trying to appease the chaos of the situation would simply yell back, "Girls, stop looking at your sister!" And sure enough they would stop, but I knew future stares were always looming and I would simply grow frustrated wishing I had a better comeback than being the all dreaded tattle tale.

This story keeps coming to mind lately. With two chemo treatments under my belt, I have officially shaved my head. While I have a fabulous wig, in this immediate phase I am more prone to wearing scarves - primarily because of the Texas heat, but also, because I think they are kind of cute.  But, I am also acutely aware that it calls attention and stares from strangers to the fact that I am, well, I'm not really sure (am I sick?) and therefore susceptible to personal insecurities, fear of judgement and labels from others.

I find myself in this unknown territory of having to let go of the perceptions of myself that I was so sure defined who I am. I realize that without the personal judgements and labels (the career driven entrepreneur, the loyal friend, the avid yoga student), is a very simple and pure space of ourselves that is unknown.  It is uncomfortable and at times very scary and can often feel like weakness. And for me, weakness has simply never been an option. I've always known myself as a strong person, inside and out.  And in many ways I realize I still am. But this experience has humbled me and I find myself discovering that strength is a powerful force, completely outside our control.  It isn't necessarily about powering through but rather surrendering and relying on and connecting with others, particularly in those times we can't do it for ourselves. It is a time to let our true essence shine bright.

There is a hebrew term - henayne - it means "HERE I AM."  This is perhaps the one word I retained from my hebrew school education, but a powerful one. That is what I feel like true strength is.  Showing up regardless of how we see ourselves and letting ourselves simply be seen, often times in our most stripped down and vulnerable moments.

And so, probably 30 years later, I have my comeback when people are looking at me. I see it not as judgement or fear which were based on my own insecurities anyways, but a gift to show up and say HENAYNE!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thanks Angie. Now What?

Like so many people, I was surprised by the news of Angelina Jolie and her articulate and eloquent article sharing her decision to get a preventative double mastectomy and bringing light to the issue around the BRCA genetic mutation. 

I was filled with a wide range of thoughts and emotions after reading the article. Admittedly my first reaction, was that of empathy and gratitude. I felt connected with Angie (can I call her Angie)?  Then,  a slew of politically incorrect thoughts ran through my head:
  • At least I am on trend (less the preventative piece)
  • I wonder how many ccs she woke up with in her expanders? 

And then some very angry and irrational thoughts:
  • What about the MILLIONS of women who were faced with the decision to take the test already diagnosed where it wasn't necessarily a choice?
  • What about the women who don't have the gene, have breast cancer and fighting every single day without a single indication as to why this happened?
  • Really - I was just beginning to forget about all this, now it's everywhere and I feel like I'm reliving it with each new headline.
  • Re: men making ignorant comments on Facebook and other sites- Shut the F_CK up! UNFRIENDED

It is hard to describe what an incredibly difficult and personal decision to take the test is.  For me, it was after I was already diagnosed and it was less a choice and more necessary to inform the strategy for my treatment. But the emotional angst leading up to the test was perhaps the most challenging part.  

The build up alone requires you to reflect on family history and in turn those who are no longer with us which alone is heartbreaking.  Then the reality that the results impact not just you, but your entire family. If I tested positive, that would influence my sisters, cousins, and niece and their futures. It was a burden I felt too responsible to bear. I ultimately tested negative, but I know so many women who have tested positive, and as Angie describes, it is an empowered step that can inform women's future health. I also know many women who may fall within the described risk factors and have chosen not to take the test. They are living their lives being present and enjoying life. And for me, that is just as empowered and brave. 

But the most important thing to consider is NOW WHAT?  Hopefully people are getting useful information, but below are a few links that I feel provide women some very tangible steps:

1. Assess your risk - Bright Pink is a great organization that has a helpful risk assessment tool. If you don't fall within the risk factors, this particular test is not relevant to you. Regardless, speak to your doctor. 

2. Check your boobs - Hopefully this is a given, but self exams and mammograms are a must. I of course would advocate to start now - regardless of age (I am 38), particularly if any of the risk factors are relevant to you. At a minimum, it is good to get a baseline.

3. Empowering others - Supporting other women and organizations that support women's health is key. Planned Parenthood, Pink Ribbons Project, and Bright Pink are just a few organization s that help women who may not have access.  But explore in your community.

It has been an overwhelming week for me being flooded through media with this news while facing my own journey.  But I have to say, I feel such a global sense of connectedness with so many women right now - including Angie.  

Needless to say, the fact that she went public was extremely brave and brought a very articulate reality to the process and acknowledges how far medicine has come. The fact that we can wake up the next day from surgery still feeling like (or at least looking like) a woman is so important to share. She is so right on in saying what an empowered process it can be and the importance of being surrounded by love and support as key to that. 

But most importantly, she is using celebrity in a way to educate, empower and get a very important conversation going.  That alone  is to be celebrated. So from one sister to another - I am proud of you Angie.

We got this..

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Don't Scratch The Itch?

Several months ago, I was having the loveliest conversation with a dear friend of mine who recently attended a yoga/meditation retreat.  She shared that the teacher/guru brought up a concept I thought was so tangible: "What happens if you don't scratch an itch?"

If you think about it, the opportunity to truly be present with an "itch" is an interesting one. The premise that if you scratch it, your reactive (ego) self is looking for a quick fix. But, what happens if we just let it be? Basically, I found that you can actually breathe yourself through an itch and just be present with it and it simply goes away or moves into another sensation.  At the time I thought it was so profound. That was of course, until I entered my journey with the "Big C" and realized that healing involves a lot of itches.

The body is amazing as it moves through the healing process, and often times the quicker the healing, the itchier you get.  So while I like to pride myself on being a miracle healer after my surgery, lets just say it was an itchy miracle.

And then of course, as I have entered my chemo journey, there is the head itch. They say that around Day 12-14 your hair will start to fall out and as the head prepares for this, there is a lot of itching.

The good thing about chemo is that it is very predictable and there are certain data points that are informal absolutes. So while I hear the doctors share specific details such as Day 3 you will really start to feel it (I did) and Day 7-10 your counts are lowest (will find out tomorrow), and then this head itch thing,  there is still a part of me that feels like I will defy these absolutes.

But, I am also learning that as my world is so unpredictable right now, it is these absolutes that I am actually becoming to appreciate and finding great comfort and guidance in.  Part of befriending my chemo I suppose.  I will say that there is simply no greater teacher than chemo in being present every single moment - and for this I am grateful.

I'm itchy just writing this, but breathing deeply and realizing that some itches are meant to be transcended, and some are simply meant to be scratched. So for now, I find myself  really appreciating that "TINGLER" head massager I received from a white elephant party while embracing the balance of present and future itches.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dear Chemo...

Oh goodness, I'm nervous just writing to you. I've heard so many things about you and admittedly many of them not so good. Of all the challenges on my journey thus far, I have for sure had the most fear about meeting you.

But,  a funny thing I have learned about fear. If you meet it and just sit with it (vs. denying), it can often reveal the most poignant moment of surrender. A moment where we realize that it is our defenses or reactionary nature to a situation, person or experience that are often times our greatest enemy. And where we have a choice to release any pre-conceived notions and choose to jump into the unknown with love, grace, and a whole lot of faith as our guide.

And so with that acknowledgement, I have chosen to see you as a friend. A powerful friend for sure. Our friendship will be a collaborative one whereby I see you as a protector, helping to clear my body of any harmful wandering cells and together we will cleanse my body and ultimately work to recover and heal wholeheartedly.

I know in many ways you will be my greatest teacher offering gifts over the course of these next 6 months - some of which I know will be quite difficult. But, I am up for the challenge and I welcome you to my healing team. I know you bring many friends along the way to help support the work you will be doing, and I welcome them as well. I choose to see myself as strong, tolerant, energized, beautiful, fit, lean,  inspired, creative and engaging with the situations and people I love in my life. And I will welcome the quiet moments of rest, introspection, and many other unforeseen opportunities to connect with my spirit on an entirely new level.

Thank you in advance for being there for me. I welcome you with ease, love and light.

We got this..

With gratitude ~ Paige

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dream Teams

A couple of nights ago I had a dream.  While I pride myself on being a pretty vivid dreamer, this had a clarity to it and my recollection of it proved that a deeper message awaited me, and perhaps for us all. It went a little something like this. 

I was in room with one of my best friend's husband. All of a sudden several terrorists came in the room. They started injecting us with these drugs. I recall as the injection was going in of hearing about this cream that would make me immune. As I felt myself being susceptible to the drugs, all of a sudden my friend comes in and she has the cream. She quickly gathers her husband and myself and places the cream on us and tells us to "hurry, it's time to go." 
The next thing I know, we are in this little cafe. It was a cafe we used to go to all of the time in college. She was running around organizing, planning, and all over the place. Her husband was calmly just standing by with an assured smile on his face the entire time. I suddenly look over and see my dog Buck at the cafe. I was so confused but so glad to see him. He looked so precious all cuddled up.  Again my friend came up to me and told me that it was time to go. I looked at her confused and said, "but what about Buck, who is going to take care of him?" She smiled and confidently said, "I got it, come with me.  Our friend "Dave" is going to take care of him." I was confused yet again until I realized that in the midst of all this, my friend was trying to set me up - oy vey:-). Please note, this particular Dave was a friend of a friend whose name I knew via several college friends. Anyways, I went over to him and told him I was confused but if he just called my sister, she would get Buck. He said no problem, and then he starts sharing all of these stories from college and our friends and we are hysterically laughing. Next thing I know, my friend is pulling up in a car with her husband, opens the door and says, "we have to go back, but it is going to be ok, we got the cream."
And then I woke up. Luckily I had an appointment with my spiritual coach/therapist the next morning who so simply helped me interpret the powerful message. Coming from the perspective that everyone in your dream represents some aspect of yourself, it became clear that a blueprint was being created for me.
  • My friend represented the mental part of myself that is organized, prepared, strategic, and responsible. (Note: this particular friend is over one year out from her own breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and has literally been my angel, guiding me throughout this process and so grateful for her:-)
  • Her husband represented that spiritual grounding and presence I have within. Never saying a word, always there with confidence and assuredness that things are happening exactly as they should.
  • Buck represented that vulnerable side of myself, making sure all of my emotional needs are being met.
  • "Dave" represented the unforeseen gifts of mystery and joy that will arise the more I just let myself go.
  • And the cream, well it took me some time to realize, but the cream is my healing spirit. There to protect me and help me to evolve to a new place.

After understanding this interpretation, I knew that my journey was not quite over, but I have the ultimate dream team within myself (and of course through all my family and friends:-) to get through whatever lies ahead. 

And so, in the midst of my own journey, I can't help but be impacted by the events of Boston with great sadness and a heavy heart. But as I watch the bravery of the first responders and the outpouring of love and concern on Facebook via Boston friends, I trust this momentary darkness will quickly be overshadowed with an overwhelming light filled with love, faith, generosity and resilience that is the trademark of such an unbelievable city. 

Regardless of any individual perspective or situation, what I know for sure is that each of us is being invited to to live with our hearts wide open, to have a faith in something greater than ourselves (however you wish to define that), and to realize we simply can't do it alone. We all have a dream team - perhaps it just takes a dream to remind us. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cozy Yellow Blanket

Growing up I remember this yellow electric blanket - literally you had to plug it in. It was warm and so cozy. My sisters and I would all huddle together under it on Saturday mornings while we watched cartoons (well for us, it was actually world wild wrestling) and wait for the cinnamon rolls to come out of the oven, at which point we would always fight over who got the center.  I usually ended up with it, not because I was the most articulate negotiator, but because I was the baby, and my sisters loved me so much.  So today, as I am surrounded by my sisters and parents, I am simply overwhelmed with all of the thoughts and prayers from my family, friends, friends of friends, family members of friends, co-workers, friends of co-workers and the many more people who have been sending me their thoughts and prayers for the weeks ahead. 

I literally feel enveloped in a cozy yellow blanket of love, light, ease, care, and grace that I know will cocoon me and my medical team throughout my healing process. And I welcome as much love and light that people want to send in whatever way the choose to send it. I am cozying up with this energy for a swift recovery that is full of joy and sacredness of the present moment of which quietude and being surrounded by those I love will be the greatest gifts. For if there is anything that this most recent phase of life has taught me, is that there is so much magic in the simple art of receiving and being present. 

Thank you to all of you for being my greatest teachers and supports. And especially to my parents, you are my rocks and my best friends and I could not do this with out you. Thanks for being at my side at every moment.  I am so proud of how we have all grown and embraced the transformation of this time and look forward to the many unexpected gifts I am sure await us all. 

Onward and upward to the next chapter. We got this..

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dear Boobs...

It feels like just yesterday when I was praying for your existence. As you know, I was a late bloomer, so I spent far too much of my teenage years in angst that you would never show up.  And much to my surprise as well as everyone else's, the summer following my sophomore year revealed you in all your glory.  I spent years trying to “minimize” your existence until my college years when I met a group of like-minded girls who as irony would have it were all well endowed as like me. We were named “The Rack” by the all too mature boys of our college years:-)

Through my twenties I began to connect with you in a more meaningful way. As I became more comfortable with my body, I found what I hope would be described as classy silhouettes to highlight you and enjoy the sensual aspects of your existence.  We have had many fun and important encounters over the years which makes this all the more difficult.

Luckily, I do not define my womanhood by your existence alone. I will not lie, my body is very important to me, and this will be the biggest challenge of my life thus far, to accept myself realizing the challenging journey ahead of me and the physical aftermath of which is still unknown. But what I know for sure, is that I have confidence in my body and trust this wisdom it brings. I realize that I am a combination of cells building an incredible immunity system based on millions of years of evolution, and my body knows exactly what to do to heal with ease and grace. My greatest job will simply to get out of the way and let it do it's thing.  I’m just sorry it will be at your expense.

Despite all of this being completely outside my control, I simply want to thank you. I know you have been doing everything in your power to maintain health, and that the cancer cells posed a great challenge for you. But I am grateful you have kept things as contained as possible. I have confidence in my doctors and using whatever medicine it takes to bring my body back to a healthy state and you can be officially relieved of your duty.

As I celebrate the good times we shared, I will also mourn many of the experiences we may never share, especially that of a child nursing, although many have tried:-). But while I will mourn this path not taken, I also embrace the infinite new possibilities of which I could never imagine that lie ahead of me.  While that specific moment may never be able to be re-created there are millions more that will have a great significance – this I am sure of. And so as we enter our final days together, I just want to thank you and honor you.  Please know, that while I may be a new perky “c” I recognize I will never be the same.  With love, gratitude, and admittedly great sadness, I let you go sweet boobies.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Duality Reality

The concept of duality is nothing new. Yin and yang. Ebb and flow. Peaks and valleys. Giving and receiving. All metaphors that I thought I understood and were key to how I like to live my life, but which I am realizing on an entirely new level.

It is weird when the moments of reality seem to hit. One of my first low moments came when we were in between appointments in Houston, and decided to peruse William Sonoma looking for a new set of pots and pans. This would normally be an exciting time, but all I could focus on was the fact that the only reason I was there was because I would be “healing” for the next several months of my life, and my mother (and other caretakers:-) essentially would need new cooking ware to help take care of me. Please note, I am 38 years old, do not cook, and the only set of pots and pans I have are probably from college which alone, independent of cancer, is a dark moment.

Another frequent moment of when the darkness hits is ironically during road rage. Normally a tolerant driver, in the last few weeks I find myself literally yelling at people cutting me off or not allowing me to merge with traffic. On a few occasions I have actually yelled out – “Fuck you, I have cancer.” I did this once when my sister was in the car. And normally one to not balk at ANYTHING, I found her a bit shocked and slightly  embarrassed. Anyone who knows me, knows this is not typical behavior for me at all.  It makes no sense, but it feels almost outside of my control and admittedly cathartic which I figure I deserve.

Cancer is ironically the best teacher of being able to stay present. The rollercoaster of emotions, divulgence of information, and the massive life altering choices that need to be made are simply overwhelming when you look at them all at once, so the ability to stay focused and present is literally the name of the game. I can honestly say I have never felt more focused in my entire life. I am more productive in every moment, including the dark ones.  And what I know for sure is that every low is ultimately met with its opposite high. The highs also come in the most unexpected ways that produce a sense of love, gratitude, support and a profound faith that I can only describe as gifts from the universe.

So for now, I will continue to stay focused. Embracing the good moments for I know there will be infinite ones, and find tolerance and compassion for the dark ones. And as the universe is so eloquently challenging me, I am quickly learning that the duality of our lives lies in how we choose to embrace these moments. And the real gift lies in transcending this duality with surrender as our guide to lead us to that profound love, faith, light and healing that is ultimately defined as an all knowing presence, God, Universe, Woo – however you wish to define it.  It’s with us always – and in those cases we forget, we have the darkness to remind us of the light, the yin to inspire the yang,  the deep valleys to escalate us to the highest peaks, and the act of giving to pave the path to receiving. 

ps. My parents and sister are currently en route with the new pots and pans and I gotta say - feeling in the light!:-)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What A Week!

Note: The following chronicles the first week from not knowing to knowing of my cancer diagnosis. Don't worry - no gloom and doom, just surreal, somewhat sarcastic, and sobering reality..

February 11 8:34 pm
I remember when I first noticed it. I was getting a massage by my hunky masseuse Moongoo, and found myself unable to get comfortable while lying on my stomach. It was an actual pressure, but I disregarded and forgot about it. I mean this was Moongoo, no time to complain.  A month later I had an energetic massage by my spiritual and psychic masseuse Deva.  I had the same sensation, only this time it was much more pronounced. But not wanting to break any trances, I disregarded.  I was already scheduled for my annual exam in a couple weeks and to be honest, I hadn't really thought of it. I mean, let me be clear, I am the poster child for health. I have been dairy free for almost 15 years (or as my people say, lactose intolerant). I haven't had red meat in over 20 years, although I have had a recent newly found love affair with bacon (just when I thought I was unique). I meditate 30 minutes a day, EVERY DAY (but am somewhat manic about it and get anxious if I miss it - realizing this may defeat the point). I do yoga at least twice a week (watching the clock most of the time, but appreciate the sweat and corpse pose at the end). I do enjoy a drink a couple of nights for week and an occasional talk with Herb Green. But as all my woo woo awareness, teaching and insight has taught me, none of that matters if you are consciously blocked. 

I've spent a good portion of my spiritual development focusing on a higher understanding of woo - however we wish to define it. From mind body medicine to mantra based meditation, I trust that all of these experiences are tools we have in our arsenal to embracing a deeper conscious awareness in our everyday life. 

As I reflect back on the early days of my spiritual evolution which kicked off right about the time of my Bat Mitvah, I see that I was in a desperate state to logically understand things outside of my control. While one would think it was this incredible experience of becoming a woman in the Jewish faith, it admittedly was around that time that I remember seeing a lifetime movie which chronicled a young woman with breast cancer. In the movie, she met a doctor who taught her the power of visualization and how that aided in her healing. I learned that the movie was based on a true story and that doctor was Dr. Bernie Segal. And so at age 13, when most girls my age were doing god knows what to Judy Blume's Are you There God, It's Me Margaret, I was reading Love, Medicine, and Miracles by Bernie Segal. I remember it having a deep impact at the time, but like most girls of that age, that impact lasted about a week.  

Only to be revisited several years later, when my Aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was a shocking moment in my family's history. Really the first "bad thing" I can remember experiencing in my somewhat sheltered life growing up Jewish in Oklahoma.  But it was the first time I learned of the urge to try and do whatever I could to help heal - really having no sense what that meant.  And so I became obsessed with trying to make sense of it all.

My really first deep dive came several years later post college with the discovery of Lousie Hay and her book YOU CAN HEALYOUR LIFE.  In it she provides a comprehensive list of ailments, the emotional cause and then a healing mantras. That book became my bible in my early twenties. Whenever someone had an ailment I was the first to point out their emotional blockages. In time I learned, that most people want to stay oblivious to this connection so I backed off. Although there were a select few that became as obsessed as I, and before the Internet had completely taken hold, I was the woo woo go to gal. From headaches to hemorroids, I would get calls from friends and family members interested not so much for the emotional cause, but more for the healing mantra. I won't mention any names, but you can imagine that with hemorroids, desperate times call for desperate measures.  It was manic, but meaningful, like so many things in my life at the time. But it also made so much sense. 

My journey quickly escalated.  My days in San Francisco and working weekly with a psychic acupuncturist named Nubbie had forever impacted the way I would experience healing. And after 5 years in the Bay Area, I quickly became a stereotypical ex dotcommer who moved from the Bay Area to Texas and became a pilates teacher.

I connected with pilates in a very profoud way while I was still in San Francisco. It was my first experiential practice of mind body connection.  When I first started doing pilates, I was commuting two hours a day to Silicon Valley. At that same time, another aunt of mine who I was also very close with was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. It was yet again a tragic and illogical thing. We had just started the healing process of my Aunt Sandy who passed away 4 years prior. But when I did pilates, I recognized the release that was happening in my body.  Through Nubbie, I became aware of chakras, the energy centers in our body and the meaning of those chakras. I understood the connection between the deep core work of pilates and the second and third chakra personal empowerment, security, stability, flexibility.  And so when the dotcom bust occurred right around the time my Aunt Tricia passed, I fled the city hoping to escape the overwhelming grief that seemed impossible to face. 

I became certified in Pilates and opened a studio in Austin, Texas.  As a pilates teacher, I learned my love of teaching and healing. While our studio was targeted to stereotypical housewives in a Texas suburb, I connected with the women who I would have previously so easily judged and saw the gift of connecting to people as humans and that we all have struggles of self love and empowerment.

After 5 years with the studio,  my woo woo journey took pause. I focused less on the physical, and more on just living my life. Any healer or teacher will tell you, that it is easy to loose yourself. And in a way, I did just that. During this time however, I witnessed the passing of both my grandparents from cancer, one of my best friends who so inspiringly traveled the heroic journey of cancer survival, and the most recent passing of my uncle whose struggle was far to fast that I still am unsure I have comprehended.

So here we are, having seen the impossible struggles of cancer in so many ways, I now am faced in a completely unknown territory.  I have a lump.  I couldn't get in to get a mammogram for a week. And so I wait.  Like so many woman who I know experience this exact thing (I know this because I have googled and read far to many community boards).  And yet with all the things in my spiritual toolkit, I realize, there is nothing I can do, but love, have faith, and try and enjoy every moment.  I find myself giving this advice alot, and perhaps that is the lesson for this moment. Say it as much as you want, until you FEEL it for yourself, none of the practices in the world mean a goddamn thing.  

I recently finished a reiki session with a dear friend.  I asked her if she got any messages during our session.  I kept trying to talk to the lump and was getting nada, and she said it didn't feel tragic, but she was still confused. And then I said, it feels kinda funny. And with that we both started laughing.  So for now, that is what this is. A funny lump - that's all..

February 14, 8:32 pm
I have cancer. I knew it was something. I'm sure everyone has that surreal moment upon the learning of diagnosis. And I trust there are stages of these moments that are yet to come. But ironically, what I was more impacted today was as I was in the waiting room between my mamogram and ultrasound, is that a.) General Hospital is on the air and b.) it's like all the fucking same people from when I watched in high school. How do NONE of them age.  A manic next thought went immediately to my cousins wedding in March and this unbelievable Jason Wu dress I got (at a crazy discount:-).  Would I get to wear it? Would I have both boobs? Would I have my hair? And then it was the prick of the litacain that brought me swooping back into the moment and the reality. I have cancer.  Gotta throw out my soy milk. Let the journey begin. 

February 16, 8:08am 
Note: Letter to my sister and dear friend/healer Janie

Hello Healing Mamas.  Thanks for coming over last night.  So grateful for you both.

I started playing around with some visualization techniques last night thanks to both of your recommendation of something I can do now. I realized that it may be possible that I can actually aim to see if we can shrink the mass at all in the coming weeks leading to whatever surgery I decide on. So if you feel inspired in your healing and personal reiki sessions to send over some shrinkage energy, I think a goal of having it go down from 4.5-2.5 is what I am aiming for. Have no idea if realistic, but figure it can't hurt.  

Also, tried to go in and have a "talk" with the cancer and it was pretty funny. Basically it was like I was talking to a cancer foreman - he was kinda cartoon like, but dressed like a construction worker.  I asked why was he here, and he just looked at me realizing I knew exactly why he was here (I know because I had just read about it in Louise Hay - see below). Anyways, he didn't say anything to me, just smiled, but then he whistled and called off about half of his workers saying, let's go guys, this isn't as big of a job as we thought. He said he was leaving just a small maintenance crew and tipped his hat and wished me best of luck:-)

Thought you would both appreciate. Here is to embracing shrinkage...

ps. Louise Hay Meaning of Breast Mass in Left
Breast Emotional Issue: A refusal to nourish the self. Putting everyone else first. Overmothering. Over protection. Overbearing attitudes
Breast Healing Mantra: I am important, I count. I now care for and nourish myself with love and with joy. I allow others the freedom to be who they are. We are all safe and free. 

February 17 – 8:46 am
Note: Email to the family after reality has become to take hold

Hello family. Hope everyone is doing well. Really appreciate the love and support over the last few days. It still seems surreal and I know the next couple of weeks will likely be the most overwhelming with the influx of data that will be coming in. Knowing this, I have set up my alternative healing plan at a high level and articulated some initial guidelines I liked to share with everyone.

I get that this is my way of coping for now, and assure you I have had my breakdown moments and am not naive to what lies ahead, but I also think that this is a crazy ironic gift and I must be open to receiving whatever lessons I can, and I believe the plan below will help me and all of us to do this. Welcome to Team Woo!

Team Woo Alternative Plan (for Paige, but welcome to partake):
Everyday Regime
·       Mediation - 30 minutes at least 1, but ideally twice a day
·       Visualization -once a day on the actual mass focussing on shrinking mass
·       Energy Work - once a week/every two weeks
·       Talk Therapy - once a week (1:1, group, etc - all TBD)
·       Flowers - fresh flowers weekly
·       Accessories - stone, oils, house clearing, edible, etc (all TBD based on need)
Complementary Regime (to discuss with Dr. pending treatment plan)
·       Hypnotherapy
·       Nutrition
·       Reflexology
·       Acupuncture

Team Woo Guidelines: (recommended only, at the end of the day your journey)
1. This is a love journey - While shitty it is happening, I prefer to stay away from terms about fight, battle, or referring to treatments as poison. It is all healing energy and this is a love journey that the universe has invited each of us on. Not to say we can't have some attitude - afterall, this cancer chose the wrong fucking body..My goal is to be as present as possible with each step and try not to get to far ahead of myself. 

2. Reach out for Support - As we all know it is often the caretakers that this is hardest on. I hope everyone has embraced this is now as much a part of your journey as it is mine - I am just driving the bus. I need to know that everyone is taking care of themselves, but realize I need to let go and leave that up to each of you. Whatever feelings of fear, confusion, anger, resentment are coming up, please seek support - ideally outside the family. I will be planning on attending any support groups as well as a combination of traditional therapists. I'm not saying you should see a therapist, but I am sure there are support groups for families of cancer patients and encourage you to explore that (you get to be anonymous). Or at a minimum reach out to friends.

3.  Game Day Rituals - It is important to me that on the day of any meetings, treatments, or surgeries that everyone be as grounded as possible. For you it can be just taking a few deep breaths. I will be personally visualizing these experiences and sending light to the Doctors, Nurses, the Office staff etc. At whatever level this resonates, I want to invite them to be part of the love journey (whether they feel this or not). Also, it is important that everyone feel the best they can on these days. That can mean dressing super comfy, or it could mean dressing in full on glamour. Whatever the case, please treat yourself with total self love, empowerment, and compassion.  I will also be carrying pods at all times for those moments when I feel compelled to practice spontaneous gifting, and you should do the same:-)

4. One Day At A Time - I am not naive that this will be a long journey. But I want to be sure and celebrate the milestone of each step once we have an understanding of those steps. I am not sure what that looks like, but I believe this will be helpful in staying present to the process of healing. 

I love you all so much and am sure more guidelines will be added, but this is what immediately has come to mind. 

Love you all~ Paige