Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Remembering the Path

The next generation at the Indian Trail, our grandchildren, seeing for the first time the new sign dedicating the trail, honoring its history and stories for future generations; stories kept alive partially through the efforts of their Grandma's 3rd/4th grade classroom.

 “We’re going to play on the Indian trail,” I heard my children say many times as they set off to play in the park across the street and disappear into the ridge of woods along the edge, out of sight of parental eyes; a place for kids to build forts, play and have the privacy of their own secret worlds. 

The park had all the usual amenities of swings, slides, playing fields and even a good sledding hill, but West Park also contained the remnants of what at one time was part of the extensive foot trails that connected the Native American communities of the area; a trail connecting to other trails that over time became the roads and eventually the highways of today. They all began centuries ago with a foot trail like ours in our little park, but this small tributary path still remains as a small footpath. It remained because of the feet of children who still played on it over the years. It remained because the Boy Scouts in 1929 dedicated the trail with a rock landmark honoring the Anishinabae people, the Three Fires Confederacy of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi people who lived here long before the white settlers arrived to this land. It remained as all paths remain: by its use.

Years ago when it was used as a trading route for several different local tribes - a common greeting heard on the trail in the local language of the Ojibwe was, “Aani ezbi-bimaadiziyin?” How is your path in life? A powerful greeting, that to answer, speaks volumes. It speaks to where you’ve been and where you hope to go; what you’ve encountered and what perhaps lies ahead. This is helpful information shared between travelers on the same road - not only about the road itself, but also about life. How is YOUR path IN LIFE? That’s deep. Both practical and deep -- and helpful information.

Sometimes we find ourselves in shock, dropped suddenly into a remote jungle where there seems to be no path, just choking vines and tangled forest all around. A sudden diagnosis of cancer 9 years ago this Autumn equinox was a time like that for me. I felt lost in the dark, dense jungle - alone. Turns out, that’s pretty normal. Everyone feels that way initially, but upon closer look we find a path left by those who've gone before. Their many feet mark the way with a well-worn path. The quicker we see clearly that not only is there a path through the jungle, but that others are holding lamps that light the way, the quicker we realize that we are not alone. We become the living link, a landmark between those who have walked before and those who will come after.

Perhaps the jungle is a sudden loss of health, or perhaps it's a divorce, or the loss of a loved one - any of the sudden veers in life -- and veer it will. Just keep your feet true to the path. Literally, just one footstep at a time. That’s all that is needed. No need to clear a new path with a machete; just find the one others have walked, step on it, and follow.... leaving your footsteps for others to follow you.

How is my path in life?

It's good. After a dense patch that was filled with mice, medicine, and mystery, the path is rising up over the clearing here. I can see far, farther than perhaps ever before. I can see far back into time, memories, and generations before with gratitude. I can see today’s path with clarity - and it’s beautiful - each day appreciated like the chance to start new that it is; something so simple, to make the most of this stretch of the path; showing up, fully. Ahead, it vanishes into the clouds same as for all of us, hidden by the Unknown and Unknowable; waiting with tomorrow’s surprises, both magical and challenging, the mysterious unknown that keeps the whole adventure interesting. So how is my path in life today? Solid. Grounded to the earth. This lovely earth. Thank you for asking.

And how is your path in life?

Anishinabae Haiku

Remember the Path
Sometimes the way home is long
Old earth; still here; now.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

for Sombra de la Noche (Nightshadow) - "Ché" [ May 2001 - Sept 9, 2014 R.I.P. ]

For my Medicine Dog/Helper & Shadow - Ché - written just a few days ago after one of our late night walks -  before knowing it would be one of our last. Ché, you are missed greatly, but your lessons are carried forward, my sweet Boy.


 under the full moon
my shadow walks alongside ~
cricket legs chirping

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monoclonal Antibody Haiku

so that I might live ~
many lives of many mice
sacrificed. Thank you.

[A monument honoring mice used for DNA research; Novosibirsk, Russia ]

Monday, August 11, 2014


Have you had a moment of awe lately? Take a look from a higher perspective; it will shake the priorities straight. Enjoy ~ [view full screen]

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Always Trust Your Cape

Eight years old with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
He's figurin’ what the heck
He screwed his courage up so tight
The whole thing come unwound
He got a runnin’ start and bless his heart
He headed for the ground

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
And always trust your cape

Now he's all grown up with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his dream
He’s full of piss and vinegar
He’s bustin’ at the seams
He licked his finger and checked the wind
It’s gonna be do or die
He wasn’t scared of nothin’,
 He was pretty sure he could fly

He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
And always trust your cape

Now he's old and grey with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his head
He’s still jumpin’ off the garage
And will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said
He’s actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Detour Haiku

a swerve in the road
around the curve the cliff's edge ~
better spread my wings

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Next Chapter

In a timely coincidence, I received this link yesterday on Joseph Campbell called Finding Joe - an introduction to not only the man behind the Power of Myth series, but also to what he calls the Hero's Journey. It's a powerful primer about this journey of ours discovering ourselves and what we're capable of through the meeting of adversity and challenges head on, face to face. Watching it last night reminded me of the distance I've traveled in the past almost 9 years of challenges to my health, its accompanying losses and also the gains. Little did I know I was also brushing up on my skills of survival that would be needed again soon -- kind of a review of what I've learned confronting my own personal dragons and finding my way through the dark jungle.

I had a cat scan last Thursday - a check-in with my annoying roommate, lymphoma, to make sure he's respecting the boundaries of the body we share. It was stressful for a number of reasons beyond my control, but I rolled with it pretty well. I had just read an article a couple days before about how being the angry patient and expressing that to the staff usually ends up hurting the patient. I kept my cool, did lots of meditating, counting breaths, listening to music on my iPod -- and waiting while they worked out some snafus. Hours later, two bottles of mocha-flavored contrast downed, one IV with more contrast and a run through the scanning tube and I was good to go.

Today I saw my oncologist for the results. He said the cancer came back in the kidney again - this time in both.

My doc is incredibly good at what he does; he brings the art back into medicine. I look into his kind and gentle eyes and give him my wholehearted trust in his care and skills. So yeah, if one is going to receive crappy news, receiving it from someone I trust in a smooth and non-threatening way leaves me feeling safe surrendering into his very knowledgeable hands. The delivery of the news was cushioned by kindness and didn't even entirely register. In the moment I had heard all of the information, but it took me until I reached the parking lot later to realize I'd lost my remission, saying to myself, "I guess it's a relapse," as I tried to digest the facts.

Am I good at dissociating or what?!

The cat scan showed that lymphoma has returned to my kidneys again so we're going to have to deal with that. We're starting with the lightest and easiest of treatments - a single agent medicine that I've had before with other combo treatments. He wants to experiment and see if the single med might knock it out. I go for infusion 4 Mondays in a row starting next week, then we'll check and take it from there. If it clears then he might want to put me on a maintenance regime of once every 3 months. If it doesn't respond then we move onto trying other things. He wants to protect my kidneys and get this out out before it grows any more.

I'm not entirely surprised. The extreme tiredness I've had the past few months has been reminding me of the time before the first boxing match with lymphoma. I'm not surprised, but there's still some shock -- not exactly what I was planning on for my summer. Oh well. Spend a day in the cancer center and you start to feel damn lucky! -- especially when you see the young people who are dealing with cancer!

So that's my news. I'm about to go do some planting and digging in the dirt now. I call it therapy - and grounding --  and also a reminder about maintaining my mental garden and the beauty before me, the beauty behind me, the beauty above me, below me and all around me as I walk forward on the Beautiful Trail - even with its speed bumps that slow me down.

Tiahui - Forward in Courage.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Let It Go

Let go of the way you thought life would unfold;
the holding of plans or dreams or expectations - - Let it all go.
Save your strength to swim with the tide.
The choice to fight what is here before you now
will only result in struggle, fear and desperate attempts to flee
from the very energy you long for. Let it go.

Let it all go and flow with the grace
that washes through your days
whether you receive it gently
or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.
Take this on faith: The mind may never find
the explanations that it seeks,
but you will move forward nonetheless.

Let go, and the wave's crest
will carry you to unknown shores,
beyond your wildest dreams or destinations.
Let it all go and find the place of rest
and peace, and certain

- Diana Faulds

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Recurring Theme Haiku

your breath like a sail 
place one foot on the highwire 
trust in gravity ~ 

Monday, April 21, 2014

100 Years Ago - The Ludlow Massacre

One hundred years ago, on April 20, 1914, the National Guard opened fire with machine guns on an encampment of striking miners and their families. Two dozen, mostly women and children, were murdered in southern Colorado by an alliance of business and government attempting to union bust. This came to be known as the Ludlow Massacre - a piece of history of union organizing. My grandfather was there with his family, including my 3 year old dad. They all survived. He quit mining, the only work he'd known since the age of 6 - and became the cemetery gravedigger - still digging in the earth, but for a much more hospitable employer: the deceased.

Thankfully, this is some of the survivor stock I come from. Big gratitude for those tough survivor genes - and gratitude for all those who have sacrificed for all of our basic human rights in the workplace.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monkey Lesson

Fall seven times, stand up eight.
How many times should you try?
Even monkeys fall from trees.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Fill In the Blank....

In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” Her neighbors' answers -- surprising, poignant, funny -- became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What's your answer?)

I had the pleasure of hearing her speak yesterday about her art and her life, which are one in the same. Check her out -- and fill in your own ending to that sentence.

"Before I die I want to...... "

Monday, January 20, 2014