The Graduation

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Dear Seamus,

I have been reading about and practicing techniques around manifestation for the past few years. A few weeks ago I felt urged to ask myself why I had not yet managed to create a cancer-free body. The past two and a half years saw the realisation of several seemingly improbable dreams. A gorgeous healthy son from my supposedly infertile body, a debt free financial situation for your Father and a beautiful farmhouse for us to live in. My belief is that if I could create those things, then there must be something blocking the health issue. I knew in order to find out I needed to be totally and utterly honest with myself. I needed to dig deep, deeper than ever before.

I have always believed that cancer, or any illness, was not just ‘of the body’. I always knew there was something more to it. As far back as the 1920’s Dr E Evans researched what he called The Cancer Prone Personality; a psychological profile that outlines how this type of personality evolves. I first came across it in Ian Gawler’s book “You can Conquer Cancer”. I was simultaneously stunned and relieved to read a basic template of my own life.

I have just started reading a book by Dr Kelly Turner called “Radical Remission”. She researched cases of radical remission, by analysing written cases or conducting interviews with people who have experienced remission. Dr Turner found nine key factors that came up again and again in the vast majority of cases. The last on the list, having strong reasons for living, was of particular interest to me.

You have been my greatest inspiration to keep living. My wish to be here to Mother you and guide you, has rooted me to this physical reality. I have been imagining the future where I am at your various birthday parties. Turning five, turning ten, turning twenty-one. Your celebration would be mine also. I have felt you in my embrace as your height nears mine. I have run my fingers through your teenage hair and smelled the laundry detergent on your freshly washed shirt. I have looked you in the eyes as you tower over me, smiling down at me with love. You are always there.

Yet the images of my own path were lacking in the same vivid detail. Why was I not able to clearly see my own future as I enjoyed my life after cancer?

I was thirty-five when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news came shortly after my surrender to the all-that-is, begging for a way out of my desperately unhappy existence. My life changed dramatically after that.

I had always wished for people to be more loving and open. Mostly when I expressed that, I was told to “get real”! Yet now, with a life threatening illness, people were more loving and open to me. It finally was my reality.

My Mother, your Nanny, and I had endured a difficult relationship. Not many people were open to hearing me speak about that so I tolerated my pain silently. Then cancer dissolved the barriers between us and I am having the most close and loving Mother and Daughter relating of my entire life.

I had felt lost for years in terms of a career path. I was creatively shut down. I hated working in offices, in jobs that seemed to have no purpose other than increasing the company bottom line. I resented doing it just to pay my bills. The side effects of cancer treatment took me out of the work force. I was finally free of those stifling environments.

I moved from a large city to a small village to recover and thought my world had shrunk. Instead the world opened up to me as I devoted myself to spiritual studies. Then I fell in love with your Daddy and gave birth to you.

It was my realisation that cancer had become inextricably connected to many wonderful experiences and events. There is a part of me that not only cannot let go of cancer, but that cannot imagine a life of extreme happiness and incredible awakenings without it.

Cancer was my saviour, my teacher. Cancer rescued me from a living hell.

In Chapter 17 of “You can Conquer Cancer” Ian Gawler recounts the story of a woman who came to his meditation group in its’ earliest days. Diagnosed with an untreatable advanced brain tumour, she embraced the recommendations and experienced a complete recovery. A year later the cancer was back. When Ian spoke with Barbara, she told him she had abandoned all the changes. She openly spoke about how her life had changed for the better when she had cancer. A more loving husband, attentive friends and a liberation from her work duties. After she recovered her life seemed to go back to ‘normal’. She said she would rather die than go back to her old life. Shortly afterwards, she did die.

I understand Barbara. It has been my biggest fear that I should ever go back to my old life.

It was a light bulb moment. I experienced a great understanding.

So my mission now is to disentangle the idea that cancer = good things. Even for all the physical discomfort it has brought me, the gifts of cancer were so great I felt on some level that I could withstand the pain.

I will never forget the lessons of this great teacher but as a student, I want to graduate. When you graduate you become the master and your teacher is no longer required.

My son, my Seamus, you have kept me here in this time space reality because you were my reason to live. You will always be my inspiration but there has been a shift. The purpose of the letters now is not so that you will know me in my absence. They are a journal, as I capture a part of my life in which I learned so much. My evolution has been woven together, word by word, to share with you and many others.

I must now dream my best life possible where I am the master. The master of myself.

“To follow the path follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master”Zen proverb

http://www.radicalremission.com

http://www.gawler.org

Real Romance

ChontellePerrinPhotography_Melanie-223

Dear Seamus,

There have been many times in life when I thought that there were experiences I would not have. Given my past or my emotional barriers or my beliefs, there was a list of things I was certain that others would never catch me saying. Let me tell you that at the top of the list was “My wedding day was one of the best days of my life”. I heard others say it, often in romanticized contexts and the cynic in me would scoff. After all I was the girl who had nightmares about white weddings and who felt that marriage was nothing more than entrapment.

So can you imagine my surprise the day a little thought sailing through my mind caught me completely off guard. I was watching your Father pottering around the house. He was cradling you in one arm and prepping your milk bottle.

I found myself pondering the scenario of getting married. It almost shocked me out of the chair! Were all the medications messing with my brain? Where on earth did that come from?

Yet there is was, as plain as the nose on my face, just quietly sitting in my head. I shooed it away and went about my business.

A few days later, it sailed through once again. Such a foreign concept to me in many ways. But there was something undeniable about it, some kind of raw truth that could not be ignored and certainly would not be dismissed.

I gave some thought to this idea and before long I was stepping back to past moments, when odd things had happened.

The first time I ever met your Father was in early 2008. I was visiting your Nanny, on holiday from Sydney. A man in the community was turning sixty and there was a birthday celebration for him in the local hall. Long trestle tables were covered in table clothes and smattered with freshly cut flowers in jam jars. I sat with my Mothers neighbour and we chatted about my worldly travels, in particular my time living in Scotland. Opposite me, a tall well-built man with a beard appeared at the table, holding two plates with food. He handed one to his girlfriend before fishing in his pocket for the cutlery. I noticed the way he doted on her and thought, wouldn’t that be nice. Back in Sydney I was doing some serious internet dating. Lots of dates, no real substance. In a big city it’s easy to have the plenty-of-fish-in-the-sea mentality.

I returned to Sydney to my whirl wind lifestyle and by October of that year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my life changed forever.

Just over a year later I moved away from my city life and all my friends, to live with Nanny. Thinking my life was now over, I was resigned to living to the end of my days at home with my Mum and my cat. However, life had other plans.

I began to spend time with a man shortly after I arrived and we became companions. We enjoyed one another’s company and soon saw each other most days. One afternoon he invited me to visit with his friends. When we arrived I noticed the man with the beard sitting outside and smoking a cigarette. He and his girlfriend chatted with us. They had a new baby who was sleeping inside.

I recall standing there but being aware that I was somehow outside of myself. Then I heard the words “You are supposed to be here”. It was so strange and so left field I thought I was going bonkers. Here I was standing on this man’s front lawn with my companion and thinking that I was the one meant to be in a relationship with a virtual stranger! I spoke nothing of it to anyone, such was its peculiarity.

I occasionally saw him around town in his beaten up old Toyota Hilux. You could hear it coming well before you spotted it! Later that year his relationship ended and I was genuinely shocked. I felt a sadness for the breakdown of his family.

It was almost exactly a year later when serendipitous circumstances caused us to gravitate towards one another in an intimate way. Our brief summer romance was guaranteed longevity when I discovered I was pregnant and we have been together ever since.

I want to take this time now to redefine the term romantic with you. By popular definition and understanding, romance is characterised by idealistic behaviours in the other. Grand demonstrations of love and symbolic tokens and gestures that we have all agreed on, somewhere along the line.

So here are some examples of my experience of romance with your Father.

He washes my dirty clothes. He dresses my wounds after I have had surgery. When you are in a mood and “only Daddy will do”, he coaxes you to kiss and cuddle me so I don’t feel left out. He puts my mobile back together after I have thrown it against the wall in frustration. He flirtatiously touches me when he knows I am feeling unattractive. When we are out shopping and I get tired, he carries my handbag. On my birthday cake last week he wrote in icing four words that define me; MELANIE, WIFE, MOTHER, FRIEND. He hovers over the stove to make sure the vegetables don’t get too steamed, because he knows I like them crunchy. He says things minutes after I have thought them. Whenever he is about to tell me something I may not like, he always starts with “You know I love you…”

He is my dearest friend. He is the Father of my child. He has loved and accepted me in ways I never thought a man could. He helped me dissolve my fears.

Therefore it all became easy. Easy to love him. Easy to see my life unfolding with him. Easy to marry him.

So on our wedding day, we celebrated with the ease and intimacy that comes so naturally to our relationship. We did it our way. The ceremony was in a beautiful garden. I wore a burgundy dress. We only had immediate family. Our wedding day was one of the best days of my life, because there are so many best days of my life with your Father. It was a beautiful day of celebration but it didn’t feel much different from any other day either.

My darling boy, one day you will be grown and your heart will yearn for another. I know that I am providing an excellent example for you in our home, of what real love is. You watch us always and I see your face light up when we are tender with each other in your presence. Listen to the messages from your heart and don’t dismiss them, for I promise you that it will surprise you in ways you have never known.

“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life” – Paulo Cohelo

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Heart of the Dreaming

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Dear Seamus,

I have read a lot about the nature of duality. How the contrasts of experience afford us perspective which creates desires. If you don’t have a lot of money you usually desire to have more. If you feel tired and sick you want to be energetic and well. When I was going through chemotherapy treatment six years I spent a lot of time in bed feeling ill. Two things kept coming to my mind again and again. One was jogging. Yes, jogging. When I lived in Coogee on Sydney’s beautiful eastern beaches, I took up jogging for the first time ever. I marvelled at how with each passing day I could run that little bit further.

When you run, your whole body is engaged. I felt strong and fit and healthy. I even enjoyed the aches and pains in my knees and calf muscles. The physical evidence of my achievement earlier in the day. That was the last time I felt really healthy and my mind had bookmarked it. When you are on chemotherapy treatment your body becomes highly sensitive. My eyes could not tolerate too much light so my room was always dark. As I lay in my bed I saw the sunlight edging the blinds. I yearned for the feeling of the sun on my head and shoulders and to hear the heavy intake of my breath as I ran beside the ocean.

The other image that kept coming to me repeatedly was not an experience I had had. I saw a vast red desert, spotted with salt bushes and scrubs. In the centre of that flat landscape was the great monolith of Uluru. A rust coloured titan, steeped in a powerful spiritual endowment. This sacred place was calling me. I never knew how much my heart wanted to be there, until that moment.

From that point it was always in the back of my mind, a knowing that I would go there. The years went by and a few possibilities to travel fizzled out for one reason or another. The yearning however, did not. Last October your Father and I found ourselves frazzled and exhausted by the daily grind of life. Our relating had become strained and we acknowledged the need for some time out. Time to go somewhere together for an adventure and a well-earned rest. Time to enjoy each other without the distraction of running a household. He asked where I wanted to go and I answered before he even finished the question!

Finally I was going to Uluru. The beauty of the fact that I had waited so long was that I got to experience it with your Father. Perfect timing. When everything had been booked and all the dates locked in, we sat back and marvelled at the wonderful plans we had made!

Your Daddy has given me many first time experiences. I have also opened him to new things and I was pleased to be with him for his first ever plane flight! I spent much of my adult life on planes and in airports so to me, getting on a plane was just like boarding a bus. I watched his mixture of excitement and nerves and it delighted me!

The captain announced that we were about to make the descent to the Ayers Rock Resort airport and I closed the book I was reading. Your Fathers fear of heights meant he needed to close the blind on the window so I was craning my head towards the other side of the plane in case I should catch a glimpse. Everything was flat and the colour of the earth was amazing, so rich.

Suddenly Uluru came into view. I became overwhelmed with emotion and felt my hand go to the base of my throat.

There she was, the great Mother that had been calling me. She had enveloped me with visions when I was helpless, giving me strength and showing me the future when I would come home to her. There I was making my descent, like a little bird on the wing, returning to the protection of the tree.

Getting off the plane we were greeted by a wall of heat. After we checked into our room we quickly made our way to the pool. It was so refreshing as I bobbed around in the water with your Dad. I kissed him and smiled “We’re here”.

We attended a dinner that evening, where we sat in the desert under the stars. It was late afternoon when we arrived at the viewing platform. We enjoyed a glass of bubbly and took turns with other tourists to pose for a photo with Uluru in the background. The heat was oppressive and I felt for the wait staff who wore black outfits while they offered us refills and canapés.

As the sun hit the horizon near Kata Tjuta in the distance, we were invited to the dining area. Last in line because of my juggling a camera and the video, we actually ended up with what I thought were the best seats. With only one other couple at our table we enjoyed an unrestricted view of the desert and the rock, all the other tables were behind us. We enjoyed a delicious meal as the sun set and before we knew it, the sky was dotted with stars. Just before dessert was served a large storm rolled in. Watching the lightning bolts reach across the sky and hearing the thunder throbbing was the pure opulence of nature. However it soon became clear that the storm had a lot of ferocity so we were evacuated from the site.

The next morning I discovered that my camera didn’t work anymore. While looking for a replacement in one of the tourist shops the assistant told me it was a frequent occurrence. It seemed that this space, this place, was so powerful that it rendered equipment useless. The other thing your Daddy and I noticed was a complete inability to comprehend time. There appeared to be a ripple in the space-time continuum.

While reading the details of our morning tours, we noted the pick-up time was 4:15am. We groaned at the thought of it but the excitement of seeing Uluru and Kata Tjuta at sunrise outweighed the pain of such an early start.

The guide and your Dad got along like a house on fire. Both Bushmen with substantial beards, they nattered on like long lost friends while the rest of us helped ourselves to a hot drink and an egg and bacon damper roll at the viewing platform. We all fell quiet just before the sunrise. The smell of the desert and the fragrance of the native plants seemed to permeate me. As the colours changed in the sky, Uluru was no longer a shadowy outline. I saw the changing palette of the rock as many have described. Grey, brown and then red as she welcomed the new day.

Back on the bus we drove the 25km kilometres to Uluru. There is a road that circles the rock and as we drove around it, she changed constantly. Because of the formation of the rock sediment and how she was birthed from the earth at an angle, one side of Uluru is 50,000 years older than the other side. The Great Mother has many stories and secrets that she has kept for longer than we can possibly comprehend.

Uluru is a significant place for the Anangu women. Many rituals and ceremonies were, and still are to a lesser degree, conducted there. My favourite part of the rock was a large cave that was used for birthing. The shape of the cave is the same as a Kangaroo pouch and is named as such.

When we walked closer to the rock we were able to touch her. There was a small area at the base of the rock that we were invited to sit on by the guide. I stepped up onto the rock with all the grace of a fish out of water, under the watchful eye of your Father.

As I sat there I ran my hands across the surface and wondered about the many people and animals that had touched that same place on the rock. I thought about all the sun that had shone upon her and all the rain that had washed over her.

A friend of mine shared my excitement at the impending trip to Uluru. He said he was certain that I would be aware of all the threads of the Universe converging in that sacred place. He was right. There is something deeply religious, something so hallowed that words really cannot accurately describe my experience. Silence is the only way for me to return to that feeling.

Uluru bonded me more firmly with your Father. Uluru ate my camera. Uluru inspired me to write you the longest letter so far even though words seem so flimsy as I try to tell you the story.

Uluru has no eyes but she has seen. Uluru has no ears but she has heard. Uluru never sleeps yet she made me part of her dreaming.

She came to me so that I would go to her. I listened to her and I returned to myself, in a future that had already happened.

Uluru is like God. Constant. Unmoving. Ever present. Indescribable and only to be experienced.

If you ever get the chance to go Seamus, go to her. More importantly, go wherever you are called. What awaits you are the most glorious of gifts. Gifts only your heart can know. That is the only knowledge you will ever need.

 

“ That shift from body identification to spirit identification, that is the meaning of enlightenment. And that is the same thing as saying ‘going from the perceptions of the mind to the knowledge of the heart’ ”Marianne Williamson

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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.

The Owl in the Mirror

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Dear Seamus,

Sometimes we go to a community organised play group. I have seen you become more and more comfortable each time we go. You have become more interactive with the other children and independently seek out different toys to play with by yourself.

One of the Mothers approached me the last time we were there. She told how much she had enjoyed watching you interact with her daughter. She commented on your gentleness and your openly caring nature.

I have become accustomed to enjoying comments from people in different situations about your golden curls or sparkling blue eyes. In a society that values our physical appearance above our character, I graciously accepted this feedback knowing that you are so much more than ‘cute’  or ‘ handsome’. To have another Mum actively seek me out to comment on your beautiful nature was a treasured experience.

Your sister is almost five. Like you, she is a physical beauty to behold with sapphires for eyes and long blonde ringlets. When we sit together colouring in picture books of princesses with tiny waists and flowing ball gowns, I chat with her about what being beautiful is. Being a beautiful girl, I tell her, is not just about what she looks like. She agrees with me that a beautiful  girl is kind and shares with others, both of which come readily to her now. She also knows that a girl need only apply a happy smile to be beautiful.

I was tortured by images of beauty when I was growing up. I recall when I started buying magazines as a teenager, I would compare myself to the girls modelling swim suits and new dresses and shoes. If I compared myself to them I would feel depressed. I was not tall, or tanned, or thin. I did not have lustrous thick hair and flawless skin. If they represented what was beautiful then clearly I was not.

Looking back I wished someone had sat with me to tell me that beauty has multi-faceted meanings. To assure me that the physical form is a fleshy toy with which to play. You can add or subtract weight or hair or clothing and it will never affect the sum of who you really are.

So amidst all the compliments about how you are easy on the eye, the stand out was the Mum who saw the beauty of you. I was so grateful for that. To know that your true beauty is shining through for the observation of others.

I believe parenthood is 90% demonstration and 10% education. I see you watching me all the time. You began mimicking words and phrases some time ago however now you seem to understand their context and appropriateness.

In the weeks leading up to your second birthday you were quite ill with a stomach bug. Daddy and I took turns sleeping on the sofa bed in the lounge room with you. You had no appetite and I was very concerned about you becoming dehydrated. I regularly handed you a water bottle urging that you, my darling, take a sip. You would oblige before slumping back onto a pillow, weak with lethargy.

With a day to spare before your birthday celebrations you managed to shake off the virus and return to your usual lively self.

I had endured many late nights either tending to you or prepping for your party. You love owls so I sat up until after 1am hand making your card and crafting little owl toppers for your cupcakes.

After the gifts were opened on the morn of your second birthday, I was sitting at the dining table feeling a little weary as I was making a mental check list of what needed to be done. I was brought back to the present moment by the feeling of something cold against my arm. You stood beside me holding my flask of water that I keep in the fridge.

“Here are dah-win. Sip” you urged me.

With utter joy in my heart, I heeded your advice and drank some cool water. You then took the bottle from me and placed it back in the fridge.

As your Mother I am a mirror to you and you reflect back to me. I can gauge myself in your behaviour. Then there are times that you conduct yourself with wisdom far beyond your years. I understand why you like owls. You are my owl in the mirror.

My dearest Seamus, my little owl, may you always know your true beauty so you can spread your wings and fly.

Happy second birthday. I love you.

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart”Kahlil Gibran

Vast Deep of Diversity

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Dear Seamus,

When I was pregnant with you we had quite a menagerie of animals in our yard. We had five sheep, two goats and our dog Rex. The largest was a cross bred ram. Whenever I waddled through our front gate he would trot towards me and follow me to the front door. His curiosity and beautiful eyes won my heart. Your Father had been working on farms for the best part of ten years. He told me “When dealing with livestock you never, ever give them names. It personalises the animal and forms attachments”.

Much to your Fathers chagrin I named him Henry.

As it got closer to your due date and I struggled with my mobility, your Dad was nervous that Henry would bowl me over one day so along with the little mob, Henry got moved to an empty paddock across the road.

Each evening when the heat of the day was subsiding, I took the vegetable scraps bucket to feed them. I would lean against the fence and watch them enjoy their snacks. They were all different in personality. One always stood back looking nervous. Another would charge the other sheep, including Henry, to get access to the best picks. Then there was the sheep that would only eat scraps of bread or toast and nothing else. A fussy eater! I saw such diversity in their personalities.

From as long back as I can recall, I was always drawn to what was different. If there was a contrast to my own life and experiences, I was immediately inquisitive. At high school I enjoyed visiting with a certain group of girls. They were from various backgrounds, mostly European but with a smattering of South American countries represented too. As I approached them I could smell the coconut oil which they had rubbed on their legs to tan. On the seats I could see containers of food that somebody’s Mum had made for them to share. They would smile and invite me to sit down. I always felt so welcomed.

When I was twenty-five my Nana offered to buy me a ticket to London and a UK working holiday visa. When she was in her sixties she began to spend six months of each year in Somerset, Southern England. She had travelled extensively during her life to many different countries and wanted to extend an offer to her three grandchildren to have an experience overseas. I arrived in London in the summer of 1999. I was lucky enough to get a job almost immediately and spent almost a year living and working in a hotel in Westminster, just one block away from Westminster Abbey.

After a visit to the famous Edinburgh Festival and a tour taking in William Wallace’s stomping ground and the Isle of Skye, I decided to move to Scotland. It was colder than London but much less gloomy. I recall many a sunny blue sky as I walked along snow covered streets. I shared a toasty Edinburgh flat with two strapping Scotsman. They initially had to repeat almost everything they said because I found it so hard to understand them. As far as they were concerned I was the one with the strange enunciation! So they started speaking a little slower, and I began picking up the nuances and inflections of the Scottish accent. Our diversities met somewhere in the middle.

When I backpacked through Europe I would cross the border from one country to another and immediately there was a new language, currency and culture. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to speak the basics of a language foreign to me. I learned through trial and error the cultural norms and loved sampling the local cuisine. Just as I began to get the hang of things, I would be off to the next country.

In the two years I spent living and travelling through Great Britain, Europe, Ireland and China I met many friends that I still keep in touch with to this day.

Diversity is an incredible gift of this world we live in. It can exist on various scales. Diversity can be as sweeping and enveloping as immersing yourself in a different culture in another country. Or you can see it in a small mob of sheep. Diversity can be delicately subtle or eye-openingly obvious. It is everywhere that you look.

Diversity is to be celebrated Seamus as it offers us so much. If we are here to have a physical experience for the expansion of our souls then keep your eyes and ears open to all that is different.

Diversity is just another point of view, another expression of the divine. A life energy wanting its own expression. However the most important thing to remember is that behind those variations and beyond the distinctions, we are one. Enjoy learning about the assortment that is on offer with detached curiosity and appreciation.

Be aware of this when you are experiencing others purely on the level of differences. See beneath the culture, the religion and the race and behold the human.

Look into the eyes of another and note not their colour or shape, but have the perspicacity to see the life force. At our very core we are the same and we are love.

 

”You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop”. Rumi

Desire and Belief

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Dear Seamus,

Desire is part of the human experience. It can take many forms, like a physical desire for food when you are hungry or the emotional desire for companionship when you are lonely. Traditional Buddhism teaches the dropping of desire because it can lead to suffering. Usually desire breeds more desire. We desire something until we achieve it or possess it. Before too long the satisfaction fades and we are desiring something different. It can be the never ending cycle that is hard to break free from.

However desire is not a bad thing. The Dalai Lama in speaking of detachment said; “Detach(ment) does not mean to give up desire. Desire must be there. Without desire, how can we live our life? Without desire how can we reach Buddhahood?”

For a long time I rejected my desires. I pushed them aside to please others. I ignored them because I thought they could never happen for me. They were repressed so deeply that I hardly recognised them any longer. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 I shed my skin and became raw and vulnerable. My heart’s desire at long last could push through to the surface. It was undeniable and much larger and stronger than any of the layers I had hidden it beneath. It was to have a family. The first step was to acknowledge that desire, to embrace it whole heartedly as my truth. The next step was to believe that it would happen to me, to understand that I deserved it. That no matter how wounded or unworthy I felt I was, that my heart’s desire would always trump the lies of my mind. Then I surrendered it to the will of the source of all things. My only job was to believe that my desire was already in existence and to stay open to the physical reality of it. I changed my Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’ even though I wasn’t (yet). I made a vision board with pictures of families. I spent time with people who had children and as I held their baby in my arms I committed that feeling to memory. I would know that feeling when I held my own baby. I had to be my desire in any way I could.

Now I have a family. I desired it and I believed it.

The Teachings of Abraham tell us that a belief is only a thought you continue to think over and over. If putting this into practice brought the experience of family into my life, then I could only imagine what else I could create if I matched my desires with my beliefs.

When you were born and I received the secondary cancer diagnosis, it set off another very powerful desire. It was to live. To be healthy and happy and enjoy my beautiful family. So from past experience, I knew it was possible. It is no mean feat believing that you will survive a secondary cancer diagnosis. My diagnosis was so dire they told me I would have palliative treatment. This would make me more comfortable so I could go home for some quality time with my family. My specialist wrote in his report that I had experienced a “catastrophic relapse”. A senior doctor in Radiation Oncology at Canberra Hospital took my hand and told me how sorry he was, over and over again. I was told my diagnosis was not curable, only manageable.

So, I had to choose. Do I believe what they are telling me? Or do I court my own wisdom which goes against the logic of all the medical evidence?

I felt so out of place in the Oncology ward. In my heart I knew it was not my time. I needed some assistance to get me back on track and then I was out of there! When they gave me the radiation schedule, my last treatment was on a Monday, meaning I had to spend the whole weekend in hospital waiting to go home. I badgered my medical team to give me the last two shots on the Friday so we could leave. I wanted to be in my bed, in my space with my loved ones so I could heal.

I was so ill when I got home that it was difficult to believe that I would ever be well again. I had no appetite, was losing weight rapidly and a bout of pneumonia left me bed ridden for days. So with very little energy and a fierce drive to get well, I started doing what I could to shift my belief to match my desire. I read Ian Gawler and Petrea Kings books. I ordered Anita Moorjani’s ‘Dying to be Me’ on the internet and read it in two days. I weaned myself of all the steroids and pain killers the hospital had sent me home with, leaving just the basic treatment regime. I chatted with my naturopath and ordered digestive enzymes and probiotics to help get my digestion back on track. I ate ice cream because it made me feel good and quite frankly I needed the extra calories. I never thought I would be so pleased to see weight gain every time I got on the scales.

All over the bedroom walls are positive affirmations of my wellness and reminders of self-love. I wrote a list of comments I would like to see on future medical reports, like “unexplained total recovery” and “no traces of metastatic disease can be found”. I look at them and read them every day. I meditate every Friday morning with a group of others and dedicate the time to my healing. Every night when I go to bed, I feel gratitude for the day and for all that I am experiencing in my life and repeat the mantra; MY BODY NOW RESTORES ITSELF TO ITS NATURAL STATE OF GOOD HEALTH.

Now I show up to my medical appointments and the nurses comment on how great I look and with hands on hips playfully ask “what are you doing here?!” My specialist is pleasantly surprised by my good health. The report from the last CT scan stated that there had been a “remarkable improvement”.

Seamus, time will tell how it all pans out but I can tell you from where I stand, in this very moment, that I want nothing more in this world than to be healed completely. I believe I can be. If you have a desire, no matter how ludicrous it may seem in the context of your life, believe it. You have absolutely nothing to lose, except having the experience of a miracle.

“If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it” – William Arthur Ward