The Only Answer

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Dear Seamus,

There is a crispness in the air not common of a typical February morning. It is my birthday and you and I are up early. At your request, the movie ‘The Croods’ is playing on the television. Our whole household could very well recite most of the lines from the film, such is the number of times it has been re-played.
I tucked your legs underneath a blanket on the lounge.

“Are you cosy”? I asked
“I not cosy”; You replied, “I SEAMUS”!

I am perched on the other couch, notebook in hand and filled with inspiration. I have not written a letter to you in some months. Not for lack of trying I might add, but it just didn’t seem to flow out of me in the usual way. If I try to write when I feel like that it feels forced, so I leave it be.

There have been beautiful things to write to you about which has made the experience more frustrating. Last December I finally fulfilled a dream to travel to Uluru. An experience every bit as powerful as I had imagined and then some! A week after we returned, your Daddy and I were married. An incredible day of celebration, love and intimacy.

As is the dualistic nature of this world we live in, I also endured some painful experiences. They came in such quick succession it felt like the Universe was throwing flaming meteorites at me. After the joys of December, the challenges of January seemed almost impossible to bear. These events triggered a whirlwind of questioning and I quickly became a prisoner of my own mind.

It all reached a desperate crescendo with the ultimate question:
“What is the meaning of all of this”?!

One of my greatest fears is to have lived a meaningless life. That all of the experiences to which I had attached such strong emotions were actually just pointless. These thoughts were going against the very grain, the very essence of who I thought I was. It was painful and I felt like I was being torn apart.

I have always wanted to know. I have always questioned, enquired and investigated. I was the child who asked ‘why’? I was the teenager who didn’t do what I was told because I questioned authority. I was the employee who needed to understand the purpose of what I was required to do.

I am the friend who openly listens when others are troubled and I ask them why they think they feel that way. I am the wife that wants to dig deep in her husband’s life, that I may know the roots of the trees that grow in his garden. I am the Mother who has an understanding of herself and how she was shaped, so that I may help you find your own shape, in your own time, in your own way.

My search for the ultimate meaning became even more poignant when the Oncologist rang me a few weeks ago to discuss my latest scan results. He explained to me that the disease has rapidly progressed and didn’t appear to be responding to the current treatment protocol. His suggestion was to stop my medications and begin chemotherapy, sooner rather than later. The aim now being to control symptoms of the disease and to prolong life a few months more. That is a known trajectory in medical oncology.
End stage cancer – chemotherapy – small extension of life – death.

To receive that news, in the frame of mind I was in, felt like fear had swallowed me whole. I was groping in the dark for the compass to get my bearings. I was backed into the corner. I felt like my only life line was to know the reason why all this was happening. So many questions. Can I choose my own life experience? Is it already written? Who do I believe? Have I switched one set of illusions that made me feel bad, for another set of illusions that made me feel better? Have I bought into the idea of manifestation when the truth is it’s all mapped out anyway? Do I really have any choices?

Through incredible synchronicity, I then began to remember. A yearning to re-read a book… a long conversation with a family member… a prayer to my Father that I may know in my heart what to do…

I remembered that the questioning mind will always churn out more questions. When the questioning mind finds answers, it will then question the answers. It is the nature of the beast.

Your Dad and I had a meeting with the community nurse, who has become a dear friend. With an open mind I listened as we went through the details of chemotherapy treatment. I leafed through the glossy pamphlet, the cover emblazoned with a flower and middle aged woman smiling off into the distance. On the pages within I relived my experience with chemotherapy six years prior. Every cell in my body resisted the very idea of it and I knew, in my deepest being, the answer. The only answer I needed to know in that moment.

With all the courage I could muster and your Father at my side, I said no to chemotherapy. I said no the known. I said yes to the uncharted path.

At the heart of it, the only peace is in not knowing. So I found that place. The compass is within me. As are the answers. Fear was keeping me from them. So I released the fear.

When I said no to chemotherapy, one door closed and I felt one hundred doors of possibility open in every direction. It was remarkable and it was powerful as I stepped into the unknown.

Darling boy I am telling you, when your current situation is telling you that there is no hope, that is exactly where hope lives. At these times your only responsibility is to dream the biggest dreams you can dream! I dreamed you into my life and you are the biggest reminder to me every day, that dreams do come true.
One step at a time, one answer at a time, one dream at a time. The rest is up to God.

“We have more answers ready within us, if only we choose to listen”Conversations with God book 1

Note: I remain under the close medical supervision of my Oncologist and GP. I have said no to chemotherapy but continue with my current treatment protocol. All my treatment decisions have been informed choices with open discussions and the support of my medical team.

Light Minded Spirituality

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Dear Seamus,

As most of us do when we are faced with a huge life-altering challenge, we bargain. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I would lie awake through the night, my body frail with chemotherapy drugs, and beg for my life. I made a lot of promises to God; that I would do this and that in exchange for my survival. When I made it out the other side of cancer treatment and held my arms wide open in gratitude, I did not forget the contract I forged with the almighty in my darkest hours. I just didn’t know what it entailed. So like most things I approach in life, I go the whole hog. If the life giver of all things had spared me, then I owed it to them to spend my remaining days in prayerful meditation, communing with spirit and acknowledging with immense gratitude the fact that I was still here. Or did I ?

What does it mean to be spiritual? Is it a term that conjures up a liberation from all form and human vice? Or is it just another dualistic label? Is it yet another template to subscribe to? I have been pondering for some time how to blend my powerful moments of blissful awareness with the day to day duties of being a human being. If I pick my nose whilst reading The Power of Now, does that diminish my enlightenment? Can I experience the timelessness and weightlessness of a great meditation session in the morning, only to fling my mobile phone down the hallway in exasperation that evening?

For a short time I considered becoming a Sanga as part of the Buddhist religion. I was drawn to the simplicity of a life dedicated to compassion and service to others. I did my research and as much as it appealed to me in some aspects, I just couldn’t justify the complete commitment it required. I also had to question what that meant for my future. I had long anticipated your arrival, Seamus, but with no relationship and infertility hanging over me, it wasn’t looking promising. Yet I couldn’t shake it – and if I became a Sanga that would be a massive road block to your existence.

As I was in the process of shedding all ideas about right and wrong, good and bad, I began to question what my obligations might be. Our human training ground is delivered to us through the filters of the mind. I experience my mind in several ways and one of those ways is as a huge filing cabinet. Every piece of information coming through must be processed, labelled and filed away. When I decided to leaf through the rather large cabinet on Spirituality, there were a number of files absent. I couldn’t seem to find the folder detailing ANGER, DISAPPOINTMENT, OVERWHELMENT or IMPATIENCE. There was no ASSERTIVENESS or OPINION files either. As clear as day I could see MEDITATION, YOGA and HERBAL TEA. I could see the dog eared HAPPINESS, ACCEPTANCE and JOY and right at the front was a label with huge lettering named PIOUSNESS.

The most startling discovery I made was laying my hands on a very thick file called PERFECTION. That was a real moment of realisation. I had put spirituality and perfection together. I’m talking about the pursuit of perfection, like avoiding mistakes and presenting as sparkly white faultlessness. The true perfection, from which we are all fashioned, is a given. We are already perfect; we were born that way. Nothing can ever take that away from you Seamus, my gorgeous boy. What happens is that as we grow we start to attach layers of ideas and experiences and soon, we can’t see our perfection any longer. Things happen to us which we want to label as mistakes, failures or successes when really it is all just experience. Mistakes are experience, failures are experience, and successes are experience. Plain and simple.

So I decided to burn the whole cabinet and start over! I began the process of creating my own definition of spirituality. My home doesn’t smell of Nag Champa incense, it’s more a blend of shortbread and wet dog. I don’t spend my days sitting cross legged meditating but when I’m in bed at night I cuddle your Daddy and think of you asleep in your cot and feel gratitude fill every cell of my body. I haven’t purified my diet from wheat, dairy, sugar and animal products. I drink my coffee and eat chocolate with absolute joy.

This incredible self-acceptance has been a side effect of cancer in my life. My wish for you is that you don’t need an experience like cancer to strip you back and remind you who you are. My wish for you is that you simply will not forget in the first place. You will forge your own relationship with God, the source, the Holy Spirit, pure consciousness or whatever label you want to put on it. In the meantime, you will grow up in a home knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you are loved and that you are love itself. That to me, is what being spiritual is all about.

“The Tao is the treasure-house, the true nature, the secret source of everything” – Tao Te Ching

The Yin and Yang Smorgasboard

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Dear Seamus,

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done since I was a high school student. I sat down and read the bible. Unlike at school, it was of my own volition and it was a fascinating read. I rejected the bible for many years because I felt it was forced upon me during my upbringing as a catholic. I never understood it nor could I relate to it. It only added to the many other confusing messages I got about life. My very basic idea about God was this cranky old man who lived in the sky watching your every move. I was told he loved me but if I was tempted by Satan then God would punish me. I was always having to admit to being a bad girl and repent for it, otherwise upon my demise he would send me to the fires of hell. There I would burn for an eternity, writhing in pain. I had been sunburned a few times over the hot, dry Australian summers and that was uncomfortable enough!

I remember as a young child sitting quietly in the school chapel with my classmates, waiting my turn for confession. I recall the distinct scent of the lacquer of the wooden bench seats as I watched a flickering light in a red glass dome on a table under a stained glass window. I called it the ‘jumping Jesus’ light and it only served to remind me of my restlessness. I was eventually called in for my turn and my anxiety grew as I tried to think of things I needed to confess to the priest. I usually made things up so I had at least three things to work with. The priest blessed me, told me to say three Hail Mary’s and four Our Father prayers and that was it. I was off the hook for another week.

So it’s a Sunday morning just before the dawn and I am up with you. Rubbing my blurry eyes while you wriggle and squeal in sheer delight of being awake. I switch on the television and start feeding you your bottle. On the channel is a bible study program, relating the current global financial crisis to the fall of Babylon in the book of Revelations. I was intrigued so when I got the opportunity later that day, I dug up a bible and opened it up to Revelations. I read about the battle between the Christ and the Anti-Christ and I began to ponder the symbolism of that story.

The concept of good versus evil has existed for a long, long time. Mostly we like to read the stories that end with the triumph of good over evil. However it made me wonder about one without the other. What would the world be like if there was only good? Or what if there was only evil? Perhaps it’s the phrasing that required rethinking.  If I apply the concept of yin and yang, it immediately takes on a different tone. It describes opposite forces that are interconnected and interdependent. So when you take the moral labels away it is no longer good and evil, right and wrong. It becomes light and dark, day and night, birth and death. Who is to say what is right and what is wrong? Is birth right and death wrong? If birth is right and we want to admonish all that is wrong, that cancels out death. What would that mean for the world? Birth and death are related and connected. One requires the other in order for its very existence. If there was only up, you would never know down. If there was only light you would never know darkness so therefore, how would you recognise the light?

So sweet little boy, if you didn’t know tears or sadness would you recognise joy? We might wish to believe that a world without heartache would be a fabulous experience of perpetual happiness. If you never felt hurt, how would you know you are happy? Perhaps then that experience of happiness would become quite bland. Day in, day out eternal happiness. The same old thing every day. Imagine you are standing at a huge long table filled with food. The catch is, it’s all prawns. Freshly caught, delicious and flavoursome. That’s what you can sample from the table. You might be able to add some lemon, or tartare sauce. You can grill them or fry them or bbq them or eat them raw. At the end of the day, no matter how much you love them, it’s all that’s on offer. They will start to lose their appeal and you will take them for granted. Your palate will become one dimensional and that will be boring.

Now I want you to imagine standing at that table and there are dozens of different foods to sample. You cannot believe the incredible flavour of the tandoori chicken, or the peppery bitterness of the rocket salad.  You may well sample the spicy meatloaf and after a strong dose of heartburn have a new appreciation for your prawns. Suddenly they are appealing again. A contrast has been created. A meatloaf yin to your prawnie yang.

In life you need to experience loneliness to appreciate and understand togetherness. When you suffer through ill health you will yearn for wellness. When you know the full force of your ego that separates you from others, it will be deeply humbling to accept the grace of the universal spirit that joins us all together.

These opposing, contradictory concepts are merely points of reference. You cannot have the one without the other. So in terms of the story of the Christ battling the Anti-Christ, I believe it is the war that we wage inside ourselves trying to avoid one aspect in favour of another. Both are required and when you accept this you will find a balance, you will feel a flow. You cannot ignore the heart and only listen to the mind. Just like you could never block out the mind and only experience the heart. They both serve a purpose by highlighting the other. Lean heavily in one direction and you will want to swing in the opposite way like a pendulum because there is a sense of the incomplete. Don’t reject it when you feel uncomfortable or when you are unhappy. Embrace it as it is needed. It is a gift given. You cannot ever have a one sided coin, it is impossible. Accept the diversity and you won’t struggle against the current, instead you will become part of the natural flow of the tides of life.

“A Warrior knows that an angel and a devil are both competing for his sword hand.
The devil says: “You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid.”
The angel says: “You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid.”
The Warrior is surprised. Both the angel and the devil have said the same thing”
– Paulo Cohelo, Warrior of the Light

Colpo di fulmine

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Dear Seamus,

A lot has been said about falling in love. Many debates have been waged over the concept of love at first sight. It has been described as an instantaneous attraction to someone you don’t know or have just met. It is all consuming for some making it difficult to think of anything else.

The Italians talk of the thunderbolt or lightning strike; “Colpo di fulmine”. Gordon Livingston describes it as mindless and I think he’s onto something there. I believe that when you fall in love or experience love at first sight it is a state of mindlessness. It is your pure bliss experiencing somebody else’s pure bliss. It is the moment when the mind is absent and the heart is in charge. It is beyond judgement, limitations and fear. You float about in the ecstasy of it and experience incredible joy. What an amazing gift given to us! A reminder through another that we are all consciousness, that we are all love.

So what then of love that goes bad? Why do we fall ‘out of love’ with each other? The thing is, it doesn’t go bad and we don’t fall out of love. We engage the mind and sometimes slowly, or sometimes quickly, we forget our bliss. We begin to apply labels and conditions. We start to hash over the past and plot a future, ignoring the beauty of the present moment. Falling in love is born from the present moment, when there is a gap of the conscious mind. A tiny crack that can shatter all the illusions you have bought into about who you are.

When you fall in love imperfections disappear. A person will appear to you in all their glory as their true selves. As pure energy. You’ve broken through all the layers and can experience their soul with your own. You feel accepting, tolerant, loving, connected, kind and generous. Being in love makes you feel bold, daring and open hearted. It allows you a freedom to express yourself, and you will want your beloved to express themselves too.

From our state of being in love and being content with the other, we begin to apply our perceptions and beliefs to that person. Imperfections in ourselves and others are born of the mind.

Depending on how you were raised and what your society says, a list of good and bad will begin to appear. You will begin to tick some boxes and cross some other things out. You will start telling the other what you don’t like about them or behaviours you will not tolerate. You will give them conditions of your love and issue ultimatums when they don’t behave in the way you think they should. You will withdraw your love from them as punishment and remind them how you confided in them about your past hurts and how they should know better. You will question your future together. You will manipulate and coerce and cry. You will grieve the illusion you had created in your mind about who that person was and say things like “well, I never really knew them anyway”. If you made your commitment legally binding, you will find yourself signing documentation stating your union has broken down irretrievably.

Despite all of this, your love is just sitting hidden beneath blame, guilt, failure and shame. You may stumble around for a while feeling emotionally crippled and disconnected. You will go about your business with a wound and you might vow never to fall in love again. Then one day, completely unexpectedly, you will experience your colpo di fulmine again with somebody else.

If you are aware and you love yourself, you can lovingly accept the other as they are. You can easily forgive them if they hurt you and you can be vulnerable and open with them. Or you can repeat the process of trying to filter love through the mind, ultimately forgetting yourself and the other. Same situation, different person. The number of times you wish to experience this is completely up to you. You can also reject falling in love altogether and feel incredible fear if you get even a hint of it happening again. Our ego’s fear love because it has the power to dissolve the identity we have created. Love threatens to expose us and make us feel naked. We are frightened that another will see all our faults and reject us. Yet our faults are mind-made and when we surrender to love, all concepts of this just melts away.

The greatest illusion of falling in love is that there is one special soul mate. There is no one person that will complete you. There is no one person that is perfect for you. If you look for fulfilment in the other you will never find it. If you look for the perfect person to have a relationship with, the odds are against you in the first instance. However, if you turn your attention inwards to see your own perfection you will fall in love with yourself. Then it is only natural that you will draw others into your experience that feel the same about themselves.

Love will become a constant in your life and not something to tumble in and out of. To fall in love is to remember, to fall out of love is to forget. Don’t forget it and there is no need to remember it. Just be love and everything else will fall into place.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (New English version)

 

 

A Blind World

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Dear Seamus,

Part of the beauty of honouring yourself is to have your own unique experience of the world. Everybody else has their own unique experience of the world too so this sometimes leads to conflict. Your perceptions and beliefs will ultimately clash with others. When you fight or argue or defend, you strengthen your beliefs. We do this because we have a desire to be right. We argue to convince someone else that their opinion, view or belief is wrong and that ours is right. The more you push against others, the ego hardens and the more isolated you become. That is the nature of the mind and the ego, to define a separation. To make us forget that we are all connected and just a very different expression of the same source.

Osho spoke of the difference between reacting and responding. Simply put, he says that reaction is just the continuation of a pattern from the past. Whereas response is the sensitivity to be in the moment. I try to be aware of this and when I am having an experience of conflict I endeavour to respond, not to react. When I react to conflict, it is with anger or indignation or hurt. It is old wounds bubbling to the surface. A need to protect myself, to try and cover an old hurt. An attempt to hide a vulnerability. It is a very different experience when I am responsive. If I make the choice in that moment of conflict to respond I feel very different. There is a calmness and an acceptance, both of myself and of the other. When you react, you want to force your thoughts, beliefs, heartaches and memories onto the other and convince them to accept it. When you respond, you are allowing a space for the other to express themselves without feeling the responsibility to prove them wrong or make them feel better. Both of those things will only reinforce the ego. You listen to them, you let them have their expression and know that it is not yours. You will not feel the need to justify yourself, to persuade them or to show them the evidence. You will respond to them by expressing yourself without care for winning the argument. If you respond instead of reacting, there will be no argument. There can only be discussion, a sharing between two people.

This requires practice when you have lots of belief systems in place. Conflict can be used to highlight your judgements and can give you an opportunity to look at what you are holding on to. How are you defining yourself? What experiences of the past do you carry forward into your day to day life? Perhaps there’s an outspoken and aggressive person who pushes your buttons. Ask yourself why? Do you want to be right? Do you want to be superior? If so, why? To win a debate or an argument is to indulge in the flimsy idea of winning. It brings no real satisfaction and only fuels the desire to create more conflict and to be right over and over and over again. It is just another illusion. To me it’s like arguing over a glass for the contents. The winner gets the water poured into their hands and it just washes through their fingers. You cannot grasp being right, just like you cannot grasp being wrong. You cannot make the thought tangible enough to hold it. It is just a thought, an idea, a concept, a belief. It’s not real, even though it feels very real to you. Go and stand beside a tree. Touch it and feel the bark and the leaves and look up into the branches. That tree is real. Can you run your hands over your thought? Can you feel the texture of your idea? No you cannot, because it only exists in your mind.

Look at your hand, see the pink flesh and unique marks on your skin. Admire your fingers and your palm and appreciate the amazing things your hands do every day. Now look at your friend’s hand. It might be bigger or smaller and different in colour but it too serves to do a vast array of incredible things every day. Now imagine trying to convince your friend that your hand is right, that your hand is superior. What a fruitless episode that would be! Your hand is your own and it is beautiful. Your friends hand belongs to them and it is indeed wonderful. You can choose how to use your hands. Do you make a fist and fight? Or do you join hands in acceptance of yourselves to open a space in which to share? React or respond, the choice is yours my dear.

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind” – Gandhi

I Heard Violins

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Dear Seamus,

The other day I asked your Daddy to describe his relationship with me. He compared it to a love story like no other; Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. When I asked why he told me that, like Kermit, he feels the overwhelming intensity of my love for him. Just like Miss Piggy, I declare my love for your Daddy in a way that cannot be misinterpreted. I cannot disagree with his analogy. You see Seamus, I adore your Daddy and see no reason why he should not be showered with my affections. In fact because he is just so beautiful to me, he is positively marinating in my love all the time.

I knew your Dad for a few years before we got together. Life took him on a roller coaster ride of challenge and heartache and I didn’t see him around much for a while. On a whim I invited him to accompany me on a road trip to Queensland where I was relocating to study for 12 months. What I didn’t realise was that time together spent driving north in a summery haze, was the beginning of the road we would start paving as a family. When he left Brisbane to go back home we agreed to keep in touch and see how things panned out. Three weeks later I was calling him to tell him we were going to have a baby.

I stayed on in Brisbane to complete the subjects I had started. My days were spent in classes, mostly the aisle seats as I would have to quietly but quickly make regular trips to the bathroom courtesy of my all day morning sickness. Evenings were spent studying while devouring watermelon and cheezels, both of which I had an unquenchable craving for.

I was almost five months pregnant when I returned and moved into your Dad’s house. We had a few ups and downs as we learned to live together. We spent many hours sitting by the fire talking and sharing our life experiences with each other. I found myself able to be candidly honest with him. I felt very relaxed in his company and we established the firm friendship on which our relationship is now based. Day by day our love grew as we nurtured it with patience, laughter and forgiveness.

I treasure him for so many reasons. He has a unique blend of gentleness and strength. His wisdom is born from his fearless approach to life. He has taught me so much about the beauty of being a parent. I got to observe his parenting skills with his other children before you were born. He demonstrated to me that his love for his children cannot be measured. I saw firsthand how much he cherishes them. And when any of them are not with him his heart yearns, like a piece of him is missing. Life had drawn the most amazing Father into my life for you, Seamus.

Over the years I had met many men and my heart just didn’t engage. I always found something wrong with the person or the timing or the circumstances. Then again, I always found fault in myself so the inner reflected the outer. I was buying into the illusion I had constructed around myself and was looking for an illusion in a man that might complete me. It was all back to front and upside down! More than that, it was not the truth. I had to recognise my true self was complete already, before I could hope to find an authentic experience of love.

There are fixed interpretations about love and you should ignore them all. I had an idea of what love was and time and time again, it failed to deliver. When I released the mental concept of love and all judgements that went along with it, love found me and so did you.

Love is incomprehensible and unfathomable by its very nature. You see the heart doesn’t know any rules, rules are born of the mind. I always say that the mind has no business in matters of the heart. Love cannot be captured or possessed or contained. Love has no concept of time. The heart does not know race, gender, religion, age and sometimes, species! Why else would a frog and a pig experience a loving devotion that defies all logic?!

It is a love that cannot be explained or understood, it is only to be experienced. I am so grateful to know it and live it every day. Seamus, I love that you can see it and feel it radiating from us.
Over the years I kissed a lot of Prince Charmings but I finally found my frog.

“The first time I met Kermie, I heard violins, I saw fireworks, and I felt as if I were walking on air. And Kermie says the first moment he saw me, his flippers tingled”Miss Piggy

Everything that comes from love is a miracle

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Dear Seamus,

Cancer is like a monster in the dark that everyone is afraid of. If you get a cancer diagnosis then you become even more afraid. Afraid of the treatment. Afraid that you have not lived your life fully. Afraid of dying. There are a few things in life that will strike fear into the hearts of people and cancer is one of them. Or is it? We live in a world that fosters fear. Look at any newspaper, it is filled with stories of things you should be afraid of. At the moment, breast cancer is copping the spotlight once again. A famous actress in America went public with some preventative treatment she had done because like me, she has a faulty gene that increases the risk of getting cancer. Like me, she had to make some choices about her body and her health. Like me, most likely she made those choices because she was afraid. This lady lost her Mummy to cancer. She is most likely afraid that she will die young and not be around to enjoy her family.

I made my decision when I didn’t have a family of my own. It was a huge decision to make, to remove a healthy part of my body. Medical experts and those close to me weighed in on it. Some prompted me to just bite the bullet and get it done. Others told me to wait and that I should not mutilate myself needlessly. All the while I was in the centre of a whirlwind of information, personal and professional opinions, and fear was a constant companion. Fears about a future I didn’t know if I could have. I was single at the time so what did that mean for any future relationships? How could a man love and accept me with no breasts? I fantasized about the little baby I was yet to have and the practicality of having to go through surgery. Would I develop another cancer in the remaining breast if I was pregnant? How could I hold a baby against my chest when it was full of stitches? Maybe I would be ok and the cancer experience was over? There was much to consider and it was a torturous and confusing time.

I chose to have the right breast removed before cancer had a chance to show up. It also meant that I would have a completely flat chest and never have to worry about wearing a bra again! I did some research into reconstruction but knew it wasn’t for me. My breasts were gone and I had no interest in trying to recreate them. When you get older I will have to explain the mysterious lumps you see on Nana and Grandma’s chest and why they are not on mine. I will point out Daddy’s nipples and tell you that I had some of my own when I was younger.

Choices around cancer treatment, both responsive and preventative, are fear based. I had my remaining healthy breast removed for fear of developing another cancer. I had 5 treatments of a bone cancer drug in a trial that had some success in preventing bone metastases. I ended up with cancer in the bones anyway.

I see the language around cancer as the ‘battle’, the ‘war’, the ‘fight’ and that people who get cancer are ‘victims’. All fear based language. That really needs to change. My experience of cancer has been a blessing and a gift. It pushed my heart’s desire to the fore. It forced me into the cocoon so that I could emerge the butterfly. The experience was painful and blissful, frightening and liberating, dark and illuminating all at once. It presented the most intense contrast in a condensed time. It fast tracked the road to self-love and where there is love, there cannot be fear. I lost my fear of death and emerged with a deep gratitude for LIFE. When I become fearful I need only remind myself that it is the absence of love. When I love myself I shine, just like anyone who loves themselves. When we experience fear our light dims a little. Only because it is clouded by doubt and a sense of separation, the illusion that we are alone. It is not possible because the life force pulsing through others is the same life force that pulses through you. It is the same. We are all the same. If you think about what an amazing scale that exists on it is simply extraordinary.

I am taking a different approach to cancer. It does not scare me. It is merely a malfunction of my physical form. The real me, my soul, cannot be diseased or dysfunctional. It is impossible because it is the source of everything, the life force or as some like to refer to it, God. I want to access that life force to heal. There is not a finite amount of miracles available, they happen all the time. I don’t see why I can’t have one too! I have had deep angst lately while analysing the idea of a miracle. I worried about how I would look to others if I banged on about getting well only to die of cancer anyway. You know what darling Seamus? I don’t know of one single dead person who feels embarrassed because they were wrong! So what do I have to lose? Nobody is going to look into my coffin wagging their finger and tutting saying they told me so. I won’t look away in shame or have a sense of failure because I’ll be dead! From what I know about death it is the ultimate state of bliss when you give up your physical form and blend back into pure energy. Why would I be afraid of that? Why would anyone be afraid of that? It is life that we are most afraid of. We are afraid of being wrong. We are afraid of failure. We are afraid of what we didn’t do and afraid of what we might do. Are any of these things real? Only in the mind. They are only beliefs. It’s time to start believing something different. It’s time to make some different decisions.

I choose to believe I’m going to get well. I choose not to read statistics on survival rates. I choose not to identify my soul with a malfunction of the body. I choose not to be afraid of death. I choose not to be afraid of cancer. I choose to experience myself in the truest way I can and not be afraid of what others think about that. I choose to love myself, to be as present and open hearted as possible and to forgive myself when I am not. I choose love and it seems to me that wellness, healing and miracles follow. You should know Seamus, you ARE a miracle.

I love you.

Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle” – A Course in Miracles

“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle”A Course in Miracles