Open Kimono

December 11th, 2013

***

“To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Hamlet, Shakespeare

My girlfriend, Tina, shared a link on Facebook with me today, entitled “Why it’s OK to Make a Mess of Things.”  She says it reminds her of my blog posts.  I have to laugh.  Not just because both my friend and the author of the article are right, but because the timing cannot be any more perfect. Why?  Because, I am making a mess of things yet again.  I am taking a sledgehammer to all that I believe to be true and hold sacred.  I am turning my world upside down and downside up.  I am breaking the code, ditching any security I have left, and taking a giant leap into the unknown.

My husband and I have split after 22 years of marriage.

Kevin is a good man.  I love him and he loves me.  But sometimes love is not enough.  So, we sold the house in Orange and the kids and I moved into 1300 square feet of 1952 cuteness.  Our house is on an Oak Tree lined street only five minutes from Orange County High School of the Arts, Casey’s current school and hopefully Maggie’s future school.  Living in the center of everything, we can walk to museums, the book store, Starbucks, the Mall and my favorite, Mother’s Market, which means fresh green juice every day without the mess and clean-up.  Although we are all very sad, we are transitioning well, albeit a bump or two here and there.  It seems the future is never as scary as one imagines.

My new neighborhood!

Jacaranda Trees in the spring

I was very hesitant to write about our separation on my blog.  But after careful consideration, I have decided I need to write about it.  Not because I want to air my dirty laundry, vent, point a finger or get sympathy (well, maybe a little).  No, I need to write about it because not only is it the truth, it is my life.  And my blog is about my life.  Anything less would be a half truth.  Anything less would be a half life.  Anything less would not be fair to you.  And, honestly, anything less makes for dreadful writing.

My best writing is when I write with guts from my gut.  My best life is when I live with guts from my gut.  And when I write and live from my gut, life is good.  I am able to be real, to be authentic, to be Deanne.  The beautiful thing about this, when I am being Deanne, when the mask is off and the persona gone, I create a space for others to be real too.  It’s a win win.  Here is a beautiful quote that expresses this idea well.

I believe the desire to be authentic and walk in our own truths is instinctive in all of us.  I also believe that hard times will awaken this desire if it has gone to sleep.  Mine is wide awake!

But, walking in our own truth is not always easy to do.  It means honesty which can put us in a vulnerable position.  I know that by being truthful and sharing some of my heartbreaking stories on my blog, I am left open to the elements; criticism, judgment and disapproval.  But, this is what honesty does.  It puts us at risk.  We are left exposed and susceptible to emotional and even physical harm.  Mother Theresa knew this too, but do you know what she said, “Be honest and transparent anyway.”

And when we are willing to be honest and transparent with ourselves and others, when we are willing to live our truth, and not worry about how it “looks.” it will set us free (I heard that somewhere) and everything will line up perfectly.  We humans go to great lengths to look good, be safe and maintain the status quo.  But “looking good” is not worth risking your authenticity.  You will miss out.  Others will miss out.  The world will miss out.  And, I do not want to miss out!

Here is a story of someone else that didn’t want to miss out either.  Hoda Kotb, 47 year old breast cancer survivor and Today Show host, learned a big lesson after meeting some random guy on a plane.  She got stuck sitting next to Mr. Chatty Cathy when all she wanted to do was put her headphones on and go to sleep. After surviving breast cancer and divorce all in the same year, Hoda did not want to explain the sling around her arm from a recent mastectomy when Mr. Chatty Cathy asked, “What is that?” She wanted to keep her story to herself.  After all, it was her story. It was no one else’s business.  Hoda finally and reluctantly explained the last year of her life to him.  And Mr. Chatty Cathy’s response, “Don’t hog your journey; it’s not just for you.  You can put your stuff deep in your pockets and take it to the grave or you can help somebody.”

Hoda said this encounter changed her life.  She chose to help somebody by writing a book and sharing her story.  And, like Hoda, I am choosing to do the same with my blog.

So here I am, the real me, Deanne, The Yes Mom Brown, sprawled out naked in front of you.  An open kimono!  Honest, not hogging my journey, vulnerable forty-seven year old, breast cancer survivor, blogger who is going out on a limb, taking a risk, dismantling my life, and living to tell about it.  You are welcome to borrow my sledgehammer when I am done.

“You could have a steam train
If you’d just lay down your tracks
You could have an aeroplane flying
If you bring your blue sky back.”

Peter Gabriel

Be Brave Enough to Break Your Own Heart

October 13th, 2013

While cleaning out my cupboards the other day getting ready for yet another move, I found a stack of letters I wrote to my mom when I was down in Tucson at the U of A.  I was thinking, damn if that twentysomething girl knew what I know now; her life would be so much easier.  So, I decided to write her a letter.

 

Barely twenty hanging at my mural covered apartment wall at the University of Arizona.

Dear Twentysomething self,

Stop using food to fill that empty place you can’t ever fill with Little Debbie’s from the dormitory basement vending machine.  Food will never love you the way you will eventually learn to love yourself.

And don’t look for a man to do that either.

One day, your best girlfriend will tell you your boyfriend is no good for you.  Don’t cast her off as clueless or jealous.  She knows what she is talking about.  In fact, take heed of your girlfriend’s insights.  Their observations are made from a deck with a much better view than your own.  Listen.

My girlfriends!

More girlfriends!

One night I caution you to think twice before drinking an entire bottle of champagne and then hurling a beer bottle across the entire living room at a tall mad man that was probably right, you just weren’t ready to hear it yet.  Think twice again when one Sunday morning you convince the very nice and confused apartment manager to get the key to your boyfriend’s apartment, open his door and let you inside because he is not answering his phone and you are sure he is lying dead face down in his own vomit, only to find him naked in the shower with his buddy’s girlfriend.  Sweetie, I know you love him, but for god’s sake, do not go back to him.  “Be brave enough to break your own heart.”*

There are some things that you just don’t get yet.  It will take a lot of living first.  And, I assure you, you will live.  And, in time, you will get.

Beware of that big fucking heart of yours, darling.  Your tolerance, compassion and ability to forgive are beautiful traits.  They will get you far in life.  But, if you are not careful, you will also be walked on like a doormat.  Do not be a doormat.

I know you want to make everything right.  I know you want things to be perfect.  You have high expectations for yourself and others.  But, and listen carefully my sweet, you cannot make others happy by your love alone.  You cannot control people.  You cannot fix them.  You cannot make them do what you want, force them to live by your rules or love you.  You alone can do that for you alone.  You will learn this eventually.  You really will.  Be patient my love.  I know patience is not your best virtue but it will be someday.

And one evening when a friend asks you to go to a party at her house even though you are battling bronchitis, say yes.  You will feel like shit, lose a game of Quarters, and end up rolling around on the floor making out with a mysterious dark haired dark eyed guy, whose friend, just a few minutes earlier, asked you out on a date.  You never go on that date.  Instead, you meet that mysterious dark haired, dark eyed guy the next night at another party.  Your oldest will have his chiseled chin and low voice.  Your daughter will have his strong will and your eyes (she will learn to roll them better than you).  And that middle of yours, with those bedroom eyes and quick wit, will make you question everything you think you know in this world.

My kiddos!

You will do some stupid things, Deanne, so a bit of a warning.  Do not hook up with a guy nicknamed Psycho.  Do not go to Puerto Penasco for three days without sunscreen and only $20 to your name.  Do not believe him when he says, “nothing happened, we’re just friends.”  And do not, I repeat, do not buy that 1978 maroon Firebird from a guy because he is cute and said it’s a great car.  It will not only put you in debt, it will send you to the hospital with 3rd degree burns.

Your tendency of being “too nice” will put you in some compromising situations.  It is ok to say “No.”  Actually, it is more than okay, it is essential at times.  It will take you a long time to learn this, however.  And, always, always, always follow your instincts darling.  That overly nice syndrome of yours gets in the way of listening to your gut.  Your gut is always right.  I repeat your gut is always right.  Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

And, don’t spend so much time worrying about your future.  Should I get a degree in psychology or accounting?  How about poly sci?  I love Women’s Studies.  But, what would I do with a Women’s Studies degree?  Teach?  Maybe a degree in business would work best with raising a family?  Do I want to have a family?  Do I want to work?  Can I do both?  Will I ever find someone to love me so I can have a family?  “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.”  Erma Bombeck I believe.  Make a choice, girlfriend, and live with it.  If it is not working for you, change it.  It’s that simple.  Your life will happen with or without fretting.  Just live it.  Be in the moment.  Right now.  This is it!

Do continue to smile.  You have a beautiful smile with the whitest of teeth.  Take care of your teeth.  People will love them.  And they will love you.  Keep giving, and loving and friending.  In other words, be yourself.

And when you are afraid, be afraid.  Do not be afraid to be afraid.  Fear can be a great motivator.  So is anger.  Do not let them stop you in your tracks.  They are only obstacles, temporary hurdles.  Feel the anger, feel the fear and push through it.  You will need this skill because one day, you will be faced with some major challenges; challenges that will knock the wind out of you and lay you out to dry in the hottest of hot summer suns.  You will get through them though; I swear it on a stack of Carl Jung Psychology books.  Actually, you won’t just get through them, you will conquer them.  You are a very strong woman Deanne.  You just don’t know it yet.

And you are right.  The issues you do not work out right now will rear their ugly heads again later.  But that may not be a bad thing.  You are not ready.  You still have a lot of experiences ahead of you before you have enough ego strength to deal with them.  That is the way of life.  It is a process, a journey.

Take care of yourself my sweet.  Do not put yourself on the back burner.  Don’t do it.  You will regret it and find yourself starving in abundance and grabbing the wrong thing to feed you.  Try to find some balance.  Make room for the things you have always loved; music, writing and travel.  They will keep you going when you do not feel like going.  They will fill you up when you feel empty, and they will give you meaning when life seems meaningless.

You are a rebel Deanne.  You always have been and always will be.  So when your mom says,’ “You’re kidding right,” after you tell her that you have decided to take your kids out of school to home school, hold tight.  She will turn out to be your biggest advocate.  Do not waste your time trying to convince others.  That is your own insecurity.  I promise you, it will be the best decision you have ever made in your entire life.

It is not the only decision you will have to make that others won’t like.  Stand your ground.

One more thing, you really need to know that a flat tire is just a flat tire.  It was not meant to make you late for an appointment or to ruin your day.  The Universe is not out to get you.  Shit just happens.  Do not take it personally or attach some meaning to it that is not there.  We waste a lot of time attaching meaning and creating stories to things that just happen.  Know the difference between what happened and your story and you will be set free.

Sweetheart, your life is going to be a mix match of firework fabulous to piss water awful.   But all of it, absolutely all of it, will create the most extraordinary work of art.  You!  Be thankfull.

And, someday a handsome man in a bar will write a phone number on a napkin and give it to you.  Take it.  Call it.  He will be your guide to peace and serenity.  It won’t seem like it at the time, but trust me.

Yours truly always and forever,

Your fortysomething self

 

*Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

Strange Gifts

September 12th, 2013

My handsome sweet smart 44 year old history professor brother of mine gave us all a scare this past weekend.  He had a stroke.  Actually, he had two strokes.  They were small and he is alive, thank god, but a bit shaken.  We all are!  The doctor’s believe a blood clot was released from his heart, blocking the blood flow and cutting off oxygen to his brain.  To confirm, they are putting him through all kinds of tests to find out exactly why such a young and apparently healthy guy (he hikes the Grand Canyon once a year for god sake) had a stroke.

Eric hiking the Grand Canyon

That was Saturday.  Today, he is at home, coherent but tired, nursing a horrible headache.  While on the phone with him earlier, I asked him how he is feeling.  He said, slurring his words a bit, “His head feels like someone hit him with a baseball bat.”   He is unsure whether the pain is from the stroke, or the concussion he got as a result of falling and hitting his head; on what, he does not know.  There is currently some blood on his brain due to the fall so he cannot take any blood thinners until he stops bleeding.  Anticoagulants are prescribed to prevent another stroke.  I think this worried him a bit but he seemed most worried about his kiddos, his work and the fact that the doctor said no driving for three months.  Or, maybe I was the one that worried most about this last fact.

Even after all the tests, they still do not know “why.”  His cholesterol is good, his blood pressure good, he is not overweight and although he enjoys his green chile burritos and occasional martinis, he is in good health.  Statistically, about 30% of young stroke victims never learn the reason why.  I hope the tests will give him an answer.  I truly do.  It is horribly difficult to live with a disease or trauma of some sort, without knowing the “why.”  You can speculate till kingdom come, and yet, the lack of answers will still haunt you.

Why me?  Why now?  Why this?  Why that? Why? Why? Why?

I asked myself that a thousand times since I was first diagnosed with cancer.  I still don’t have an answer.

But this ambiguity can be turned into something very positive and meaningful, I have found.

Take Elie Wiesel for example.   When Elie was a teenager in Transylvania in 1944, he and his entire family were taken in the middle of the night to the Auschwitz concentration camp.   In his powerful and terrifying narrative, Night, Elie writes, “There are those who tell me that I survived in order to write this text.  I am not convinced.  I don’t know how I survived; I was weak, rather shy; I did nothing to save myself.  A miracle?  Certainly not.  If heaven could or would perform a miracle for me, why not for others more deserving than myself?  It was nothing more than chance.  However, having survived, I needed to give some meaning to my survival.”

I so get this.

Why did Eric have a stroke?  I have no idea why.  Why did I get cancer?  I don’t know that either.  Was it my dense breasts or because I started my period when I was very young?  Was it the birth control pills, my 10 lb. babies, not enough vegetables, bad genes, lack of Vitamin D, chocolate covered almonds, Sam Adams, deodorant, that damn black bra with the underwire, stress, negative thoughts, polluted air, or acid rain?  Was it fate?  Did I have a lesson to learn?  The list goes on and on and on.  It’s exhausting.

Again, I don’t have an answer.  But, I do know, it was not useless.  I know that much for sure.  Why?  Because I gave it meaning, my own meaning perhaps, but meaning. And, so will Eric.  Joseph Campbell explains it this way:

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be…”

And how does one do that?  How does one ascribe meaning to something so horrible, so difficult, so… Well, if Elie did it, I certainly can.  I can’t profess to know what Elie did to give meaning to surviving that terrible night at Auschwitz or his stay at Buchenwald.  But I can guess that his writing helped him profusely.  I can also guess that his writing was just one piece of a very intricate puzzle.  Although my cancer cannot in any way be compared to what Elie went through, my experience has helped me learn a few things along the way.

First of all, I have learned to look at difficult events that happen in my life from a different perspective.  Shining a new light on things, I have come to understand that trauma, difficulty, pain or suffering can be a gift if you choose to see it from a more meaningful viewpoint.   Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t wish cancer or a stroke or a concentration camp on anyone.  There was no “Woohoo, Eric had a stroke, he is one lucky dude!”  It’s not that kind of gift.

No, when I first heard that Eric had a stroke, I was devastated.  I was shocked, I cried and I was scared.  But, I am optimistic and have full trust in his “kicking ass” capabilities.  I know he will turn it around and pull himself up from his manly bootstraps.  And, like me, I believe not only will his stroke open new doors and new paths full of fresh opportunities for him, it will close doors that lead to dead ends.  Therein lies the gift.

A nice big door opened to me at the Susan G. Komen Luncheon where I was a guest speaker! These lovelies are all breast cancer survivors!

Secondly, I have learned compassion at a much deeper level than before.  And this compassion has helped me to understand others so much more.   It seems to me that one needs to suffer to understand someone else’s suffering.  You know the whole “walk in my shoes” idiom.  When we see someone else feel the pain we felt, our hearts open to their pain.  We feel empathy.  Well, most of us do, anyway.   And this empathy, this compassion opens a whole new world of understanding, one where judgment, anger, bitterness and resentment no longer dwell.  One that is much more peaceful than before.

The Venerable Maha Ghosananda, Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia,explains this well.  He saw that to unify the nation of Cambodia, it was essential for Cambodians to put aside their anger for the genocide of the Khmer Rouge.  He described it like this:

“The suffering of Cambodia has been deep. From this suffering comes great compassion. Great compassion makes a peaceful heart. A peaceful heart makes a peaceful person. A peaceful person makes a peaceful family. A peaceful family makes a peaceful community. A peaceful community makes a peaceful nation. A peaceful nation makes a peaceful world”

Does it sound overly optimistic?  Maybe.   But simply believing that it is possible to have world peace brings extraordinary meaning to one’s life.  I know that it’s a work in progress.  I am a work in progress.  We are all a work in progress.  But, I have hope.

Do you know that when Elii first wrote Night, every single publisher turned him down?  They didn’t think anyone wanted to read a book so depressing.  Or, read a book written by a Jew.  That was years ago.  Things have changed.  Elie’s book is now read by students everywhere as a part of high school and college curriculum.  What do you think of world peace now?  Is it possible?  Maybe.

I do not know all the answers.  In fact, I never will.  But, I do know that my cancer, Eric’s stroke and the Holocaust were not by some obvious universal extraordinary numinous pre-planned design.  The Universe did not have a vendetta against me, or try to teach me some lesson.  Cancer just happened.  It sucks!

But since I did get it, I might as well turn it into something less “sucky,” more significant, more meaningful and maybe, just maybe, not only bring a little more compassion and peace to me, to my family, and to my community, maybe in my teeny weeney little way I can be a contributing factor to bringing more peace to the world.  A tall order?  Maybe.

Eric, what do you think?

My Sun Sets to Rise Again

September 2nd, 2013

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”   ― Wallace StegnerAngle of Repose

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I was born on Labor Day.  Actually, I was born a few hours after Labor Day at three o’clock in the morning.  Although Labor Day is not my actual birthday, it sure feels like it. The day has always been dedicated to me.  And, as my mom always jokes, “Labor Day was named after me because I went into labor with Deanne that day.”

Every year on Labor Day weekend, I would have a big slumber party.  I invited all my best girlfriends, moved the furniture in the family room up against the walls and decorated with balloons and streamers.  We would swim, dance, eat too much cake, play “Light as a Feather, “Stiff as a Board,” and watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

I grew up with Jerry.  The first Jerry Lewis telethon was aired on Labor Day in 1966, the year I was born.  I loved him and his movies, especially “The Bell Boy.”  And, I felt lucky that with only five channels to choose from, all that went off the air at midnight, that my birthday was the only night of the year there was a television show on all night long.  It made me feel special.  We would watch Jerry push himself as he stayed up 24 hours straight raising thousands of dollars for muscular dystrophy with guests like Ed McMahon, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Oralndo and Dawn, “Tie a yellow ribbon ‘round the old oak tree!”  If Jerry could do it, we could do it!

But we couldn’t.  We didn’t.  At some point in time, we always fell asleep.

The first day of school after summer vacation always followed Labor Day.  Even though I was exhausted from the night before, I was excited for a new year to begin.  I would unwrap my new pens and erasers, set up my pencil box and three ring binder, and lay out my new fall clothes for the next morning.  I was so excited to wear my new outfits I didn’t care that it was still 110 degrees in the shade as I slipped into my 70’s gold turtle neck top, matching corduroy skirt and itchy tights.

Labor Day weekend always signified change for me; another year older, a brand new wardrobe and a new year in school.  But after years of no telethon, hundreds of channels and homeschooling, Labor Day weekend became just another weekend.  Until now!

This year Labor Day weekend yet again signifies change!

We are moving!  It was only a year and a half ago that we moved into this glorious monster of a house.  With its flowing waterfalls, lush zen garden and Koi ponds it has been both a blessing and a nightmare.  Parties, book groups, poetry workshops, rock concerts, movie nights, new friends and late night Nerf Gun Wars have filled both these walls and our hearts.  But so has flooded sump pumps, overflowing toilets, root infested pipes, armies of ants and the never ending wrath of the Santa Ana winds leaving me with two days of yard work and resentment.

Midnight Nerf Gun Wars

Mother Function Concert in our Garage

So after careful deliberation, we have decided to sell our home and move on to something less monstrous, less glorious, less work, less money, less;  but in the long run I know it will bring to my life so much more.

The house should be up for sale by this Friday on my birthday.  I am sad to say good bye.  Although I will miss our midnight Nerf Gun Wars and movie nights, they will always be a part of me just like those late night slumber parties and Jerry Lewis telethons.  In some ways, it is the end of an era for me, in others, a new beginning.  But I am not afraid of new beginnings (well maybe a little).  I just don’t always like the death that precedes it.

But as Robert Browning writes, “My sun sets to rise again.”  So, as the sun sets this Labor Day, I will unwrap my new pens and erasers, set up my pencil box and three ring binder and lay out my new fall clothes for a new year, a new beginning!  I am born again this Labor Day weekend.  Happy Birthday to me!

Dear Sugar Daddy

July 19th, 2013

Last night was the strangest poetry night ever.  It was the regular Wednesday open mic at the Ugly Mug in Orange.  Rachel McKibbens, poet, activist, and essayist was the featured poet.  The place was packed and I was sitting in a puddle of sweat form both the summer heat and my nerves.  I was planning to read a new poem I wrote, Dear Sugar Daddy, but I was nervous.  The poem was different from anything I had written before.

As the open mic got started, it was announced that we could read two poems or four minutes.  Typically it is three poems, five minutes.  But, there were so many people to see Rachel we would have been there till Friday if they kept to the usual guidelines.  My poem was close to five minutes.  I wouldn’t be able to read it.  I was so disappointed. Raundi, my BFF and partner in crime suggested I cut some parts.  I considered it, but I would either have to cut the funny stuff or the profound stuff.  I decided for the integrity of the piece, to not cut any stuff and save it for another night.

A few minutes later, once comfortable with my decision, Ben Trigg, one of the Two Idiots Peddling poetry, sadly announced that Rachel would not be performing tonight.  She had a family emergency.   Again, another disappointment.  Rachel is a truly remarkable poet. Her candor is both painful and powerful.  But through her words, she brings true healing to those who have known suffering.

But, as happens in life, when one door closes, another opens.  Because Rachel would not be performing, poets would have the usual three poems or five minutes.

So, it seems the stars were aligned in my favor last night because I was able to read my poem.  And, I was truly grateful for the response.  It was a hit.  But, I will let you decide. Per a friend’s request, I have posted it below.

By the way, Rachel’s family emergency:  a family member came into the Ugly Mug ranting and raving about Rachel not telling the truth, blah, blah, blah.  Honestly, her behavior made it impossible to believe any of her rants only to confirm the beautiful power of Rachel’s poetry. Keep on writing Rachel. There are those of us that want to hear what you have to say.  Actually, we need to hear what you have to say.

Here is a link to her website:  http://www.rachelmckibbens.com/

And a link to Two Idiots Peddling Poetry: http://www.poetryidiots.com/


Dear Sugar Daddy

Oh Henry, it was not because of Clark

You would have killed me before long if I continued to indulge in your divine sweetness.

Like oxygen is to fire

You stoked my sweet tooth

And fed my cancer

How I craved you

 

Your milk chocolate Kisses

And Gummi bear hugs

Melted me

And that almond nougat center of yours

Stuck to my insides

Your Laffy Taffy tongue could undo me in one licking

And the way you commanded those black licorice whips

You brought me to my knees

I prayed for salvation

As you placed Necco Wafers in my palm

Body of Christ

Amen

 

I still remember the day we met

I hit Payday

You were pure Almond Joy

With your Strawberry Starburst smile

And Milky Way eyes

I was on Cloud 9

You always had that affect on me

 

Like the day we played Double Dare with X rated candy hearts

You wrapped me in Bubble Gum Tape

Tootsie Rolled me in your Pop Rocks quarry

And Fun Dipped me in your old fashioned soda fountain

I was a red hot Atomic Fireball

Boom

 

Or the time we arm wrestled for first Dibs on that blue raspberry flavored Blow Pop

You won

The bubble popped

The gum stuck in my hair

We tried to wash it out with peanut butter cups

But it was of no use

I had to cut it all off

Every last strand

I knew then that I was in love

 

 

Then there was that infamous night you gave me a candy diamond ring

Down on one knee

You asked me to marry you

I slowly sucked the precious stone down to the stump

My saliva dissolving the red jewel down to a syrupy puddle in my heart

And said “yes”

 

You were my Sugar Daddy

And I wanted to have your sugar babies

 

Damn, how I loved to climb your Mountain Dew six pack

Count how many licks it took to get to your Tootsie Roll center

Tickle your skittles

Wiggle your Joe Joe’s

Butterfinger your Doughnut hole

And get lost in your package of Whoppers

Drunk on your liquid cherry cordial insides

I would howl at the Peppermint Patty Moon

While I prayed to the Sugar gods for more

 

But like all good things, it had to come to an end

I could not live on sugar alone

My doctor said no more

To keep my cancer from coming back

 

We were both devastated

After being joined at the hip, like melted Junior Mints

 

But instead of ending things, I became bitter

Trying to change you

I stripped you from your bright colors, sugar coating and gooey caramel filling

Took away your nuts, your sprinkles and your Good Humor candy center crunch

But as I tried to soften your insides it only hardened your shell

And we ended up in Big Hunk fights

 

When I finally realized changing you would not work

I tried to quit cold turkey, complete abstinence

I cleaned out my cupboards, threw out my hidden stash

And poured every ounce of you down the drain

But I became delirious

And my hallucinations got the best of me

Gummi worms were crawling all over my skin and Swedish Fish were swimming in my eyeballs

I could not take it

 

So lastly, I attempted to replace you with other sweeteners

But there was no substitute for you

 

I was in such denial baby

Quitting you was like trying to bite through a jawbreaker

You were my crack

My Dopamine Ding Dong

Bursts of euphoria would rocket me straight to Mars when you entered my bloodstream

I was addicted

No amount of Good and Plenty could satisfy me

And, my willpower was no match to your Pixie Stick

How I wanted to pour every last sugary granule down my throat

Let you dissolve in my mouth

Enter my veins

And travel to every corner of my being

 

Until one day, I hit Rock Candy bottom

I could not bear to live without you

So, I drank an entire case of Coca-Cola

Swallowed the Bottle Caps too

And hung myself from the rafters with Red Cherry Twists

They untwisted

I fell to the ground

Smashing into a thousand little Reese’s Pieces

 

That was when I finally admitted I was powerless over you

And came to believe that a Power greater than us could restore me to sanity

I began to let go

Joined AA

Went to my meetings

Found a Mentos

Read my literature

And worked my 12 step program

They were my Lifesaver

 

Since my spiritual awakening, I live a healthier life style

Green juice and flax seed cookies have replaced those late night candy bars, butterscotches and lemon drops

 

But I still long for you

Dreaming of those sweet lazy daze tangled in each other’s arms

Giggling at the comic strips wrapped around little pink Bazooka rectangles

Melted, hot, and sticky in a pile of wrappers and empty bottles of root beer

Puffing on bubble gum cigarettes

While the room filled with powdered sugar smoke

Art before Housework

July 9th, 2013

 “Housework is work directly opposed to the possibility of human-actualization”…Ann Oakley

Last week at basketball practice, during the last five minutes of a scrimmage game, Casey landed on his coach’s foot and sprained his ankle.  Watching the whole thing happen, I could feel his pain as he limped around the court trying to shake it off but there was just no shaking it.  His ankle swelled up to the size of a baseball.  I took him to urgent care that night.  After three hours and a few X-Rays, the doctor said it’s a bad sprain.  “Keep it wrapped, iced and elevated.  And, stay off of it for two weeks,” he added.

Two weeks!!??  Casey’s friend said “Lucky!”  And Casey thought, “Well, it’s a good excuse to just hang around.”  But, I had a very different opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt bad for Casey.  He just started a club basketball team and he had a big “Mother Function” gig coming up.  Poor guy sprained his kick drum foot.  No, I had a different opinion because I had already been struggling with feeling like my kid’s slave since summer began; now I have to be Casey’s nurse maid.

Casey rock'n out in our garage with sprained ankle at the Mother Function and Bunny House Party this Saturday!

Typically, I don’t mind taking care of my family.  Driving Casey to band practice, taking Maggie to poetry or making them chicken noodle soup when they are sick is part of being a mother and I love being a mom.  When they are working hard, doing well in school and following their passions, I am more than happy to help out.   But, when I ask them to clean the kitty litter or take out the trash while they are playing video games in the middle of summer, and I get answers like “in a second” or ”I will in a minute,” well that’s another story.  And to add insult to injury, when a second becomes an hour, an hour becomes an afternoon, an afternoon an entire week, then I get angry.

So, why would the universe kick me when I was already down?  Why would Casey get injured now?  Well, I have learned that’s simply the way things work.  I have also learned that it is not always a bad thing.  There is a lesson in every kick.

What lesson have I found in Casey’s sprained ankle you ask?  Patience for one.  I know this too shall pass.  Second, I need to lower my expectations a bit.  Trying to keep a house clean with all three kids home during summer vacation is futile.  But, I was really hoping to find a more profound lesson in all of this, which I finally did.

I got into a discussion about this the other day with my girlfriend.  She said that no other culture in the world does as much for our children as we do for ours.  So, I started researching it.  She was right. It’s true, especially with today’s helicopter generation.  Some believe this causes entitlement and laziness amongst our kids today.  There is probably some truth to this too.  But, even though I do a lot for my kids, they are not lazy.  It may “seem” like it at times, but when they are truly interested in something they go full throttle.  The “seems like lazy” times are usually when I am interrupting them and asking them to do something no one wants to do, not even me, like cleaning the kitty litter.  That’s when I get the “in a sec.”   Do I really think they are going to grow up to become do-nothing, lazy ass video gaming bums still living in my house at age 30 because they won’t clean the kitty litter?  Yes, sometimes I do, but then I am reminded of my own teenage days.

You should have seen my dorm room when I was in college. There was green stuff growing in beer bottles, a ten speed parked in the center of the room and my bed was hiding somewhere under all my dirty clothes (and I had the upper bunk).  I was also a world class procrastinator.  I skipped classes and put off papers until the night before.  My younger years were not much better.  My sweet hard working mother would clean and fold my laundry and leave the clean stack on the steps for me to take to my room and put away.  I have to humbly admit, for the sake of getting my point across, that stack of clean clothes would sit there for days. I would even walk by it, over and over again, on my way up to my room, on my way down from my room, without ever picking it up.  And, when I needed something from the stack, for example, a pair of panties after getting out of the shower, I would sneak down the steps dripping wet in my towel, grab a pair of panties from the folded pile, leave the rest behind, and go back upstairs to get dressed.   My mom would beg, plead and cry, “Please take your clothes to your room!”  And, I would respond, “In a sec.”  I’m so sorry mom.  And my point, I did not become a lazy do nothing bum.  No way.  Not even close.  And, neither will my kids.  Especially with a role model like me.

But am I really being a good role model?

I ask this because I know the true reason why I feel like a slave.

I feel like a slave because I am a slave, but not to my kids.  No, I am a slave to myself.  I am a slave to my should’s and ought to’s.  I am a slave to a story that has been told to me over and over throughout my life, weaved like weeds through the fragile tendrils of my spirit.   And, I am using this story to keep me from doing my real work.  It’s an excuse, a cover, blaming something else for my shortfalls.  In other words, it is a subconscious reason to not finish my book.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in Women who Run with the Wolves, “I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write…and you know it’s a funny thing about house cleaning…it never comes to an end.  Perfect way to stop a woman.”

Take laundry, for example.   Why would I choose to do laundry over writing?  Besides the fact that we need clean clothes, laundry is something the kids can do.  But, instead of teaching a man to fish, I simply do it myself.  Why?  It’s easy.  It’s easier than teaching them and it is much easier than writing.  Separate the colors from the whites, add a cup of detergent, set the water temperature and press the “Start” button.  Viola, 45 minutes later, clean clothes!  It is simple and straightforward.  It does not take a lot of thought and you know the outcome.  This is pretty much true of most housework wouldn’t you say?  But when something is more complicated, has many steps, takes more thought and you have no idea how it’s all going to turn out, well that’s a completely different story.

Writing is not easy.  It takes me hours, sometimes days to write just one blog.  There are a lot of steps involved.  First, one needs to be inspired and you never know where you will find inspiration.  Second, it takes concentration, a lot of concentration.  Not easy in a world full of distractions.  Then there is planning, organization, and implementation.  And, once implemented, it is important to keep your momentum, sustain its life and finish what you have started.  Estes says, “Women who have lost one or more of these (steps) report that they “can’t think” of anything new, useful or empathic for themselves.  They are easily “distracted” by love affairs, too much work, too much play, by tiredness, or by fear of failure.”

We all have that fear of failure, whether you admit it to yourself or not.  Am I wasting my time?  Do people really want to hear what I have to say?  Are my ideas important, worthwhile, helpful?  Can I actually write?  When this Nervous Nellie creeps into our head, we pollute our creative spirit and turn to distractions.

We all have a creative spirit, a force that makes us feel alive.  Whether it is writing a poem, singing a song, closing a deal, running five miles, planting a garden, solving a case, building a future, mending a dress, painting a house, or raising a child, we are all part of the creative life. Estes says, “A woman’s creative ability is her most valuable asset, for its gives outwardly and feeds her inwardly at every level:  psychic, spiritual, mental, emotive and economic.”  I feel it.  I feel this creative spirit in the many things that I do like singing, hiking, homeschooling and writing.  But when this creative energy becomes dim and it is no longer lighting my way, I get stuck in the ordinary, the mundane.  I become overly complacent, stick to the familiar and lose my sense of adventure.  Laundry takes the place of writing, shopping takes the place of running, Facebook takes the place of reading, eating takes the place of…I’m sure you get my drift.

Me, not cleaning, with my girls at Still Water!

So when our creativity becomes polluted, it is time to clear the waters and weed our gardens.  Casey’s sprained ankle gave me just the motivation I needed to do this.  I told my kids, starting today, finishing my book is priority.  You are going to have to step up to the plate.  Do your own dishes.  Clean the kitty litter.  Feed the Koi.  And, pick up after yourselves.  I know the house is going to get messy.  Frozen Trader Joes burritos may become your food staple and your white T-shirts may take on a pink hue but Art before Housework dammit!

They are 100% behind me.

So all you women (and men) out there, take a stand with me and unite?  Come together creative spirits everywhere and join the cause!  Ditch the toilet brushes and vacuums! Throw away those mops and feather dusters?  Instead, pick up your pen, guitar, paint brush, running shoes, clippers, pliers, and glue guns.  Get writing.  Start singing.  Color those blank canvases.  Read a book.  Head for the hiking trails.  Join a museum.  And, remodel that kitchen you have been waiting for your husband to do all these years.  And, when you meet a woman, with glue gun in hand, tousled hair, stained clothes and a wild look in her eyes, do not judge.  She is a part of the movement.  She is the light.  She is writing a new story for the next generation.   She is creating!  She is free!

 

 

Oh, Freedom is Mine

June 9th, 2013

“Stars when you shine, You know how I feel
Scent of the pine, You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life,
For me, And, I’m feeling good”

….Nina Simone, Muse, Michael Buble and Daisy Chain

 “I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I used to think freedom was a life void of responsibilities, ties and obligations; the ability to do anything I wanted to do and go wherever I chose with whomever I desired without rules, without coercion and without  expectations.  Sounds a bit like anarchy, huh.  And, it sounds awesome. But it’s not true.  As I have grown up, I have come to understand freedom as so much more than that. 

After being diagnosed with cancer and choosing to help heal my body through diet, I went gung ho on the greens.  Wholeheartedly believing in the benefits of healthy eating, it was easy for me to pass up that filet mignon and say “no” to strawberry cheesecake.  Choosing green juice over a nice cold Corona was painless.  I felt strong and totally confident with my decision.  Nothing could shake me.

But after a while, I started to become resentful.  I was jealous of people that could eat and drink whatever they wanted without thinking twice about what they were putting into their bodies.  I was frustrated that I had to be in control and stay “in-check” at all times.  Parties, holidays and social gatherings became a reminder of what I could not do.  Even commercials and billboards of beautiful people eating fast food pissed me off.  Disheartened and frustrated that I had to live by different rules or shall I say so many rules, I felt like a landlocked mermaid.  It just wasn’t fair. 

I simply could not go back to life before cancer, however, eating and drinking whatever I pleased.  Believing there is a link between what we put in our bodies and cancer, I had to change my lifestyle.  I have met many cancer survivors who chose not change their diets (and they are happy and healthy) but I could not do that.  Like Einstein, I believed, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  I was not insane. 

So, how was I to continue to eat my greens and be at peace at the same time?  For it seemed pretty ridiculous to be on a diet that caused me so much stress.  And, I am sure it was not healthy to let the fear of eating a brownie consume me.  Truly that would not help my cause.  Dwelling on it would only cause me more stress and we all know what stress can do to our bodies.

So, I had to find a way to continue my vegan lifestyle and be O.K. with it.  I mean truly O.K.; mind, body and spirit all in sync.

Not until I came across this quote by Gandhi did I understand how I could finally be at peace with my choice.  Ghandi said, “Freedom doesn’t mean the absence of restrictions. It means possessing unshakable conviction in your choices in the face of an obstacle.”  

Ohhhhhhhh, I got it! Freedom is a state of mind and my state was still shakable. 

But before I continue, however true this statement is, I am not Ghandi!  Second, since a state of mind is defined as a temporary psychological state, maintaining true 100% “unshakable,” steadfast, unwavering, and unflinching conviction at all times is not only difficult, it is nonhuman. 

We all experience doubt from time to time.  For example, I am still not completely sold that changing my diet will keep cancer away.  I absolutely believe, without a doubt that it will help but I do not know for certain that it is the one true answer.  I know that there are many other reasons beside diet that people get cancer or that cancer will metastasize.  And, as long as I know this, my unshakable conviction is shaky.

And, I bet if you asked Mrs. Gandhi what she thought about her husband’s steadfast fast, risking death for a cause, and leaving her behind with the kids and bills, well she may have had a very different opinion.  I’m just saying.

In light of these facts, I do believe Gandhi was one rad dude.  And I would love to have the kind of 100% conviction in my belief that Gandhi had in his.  It would make my life a lot easier.  I also hope some day that I will reach the kind of enlightenment that Gandhi achieved.  But in the meanwhile, as I work toward the illuminated life, I will continue to remind myself every day that I am human.  I am not perfect.  I am doing the best I can with what I know.  I will try not to be so hard on myself or other people.  I will learn to let go and let live.  I will accept a bit of indulgence once in a while and not get mad at myself or let resentment set in when I falter.  I will also work hard on understanding that I will always have a bit of doubt hidden in the shadows but not to let that doubt sabotage my efforts.  And, I will always remember that any choice I make whether with 100% conviction or not, will either be a success or a lesson.  It will not be in vain.    

There is my conviction!  There is my freedom!

Daisy Chain – The Magnificent Seven

May 28th, 2013

 “Nobody throws me my own guns and says run.  Nobody!”  Britt….The Magnificent Seven

Daisy Chain at Still Water, Dana Point

We may be carrying guitars, drum sticks and mics instead of guns, but we Daisy Chain women are not so different from Yul Brynner and his men in The Magnificent Seven, as we work hard to protect our rights, preserve our way of life and defend our freedom to rock in spite of our crazy busy schedules, umpteen kids, minimal time, and hearing loss!

I love my life but sometimes you have to fight hard to take time for yourself, follow your passions or simply have fun. We may not be fighting bandits from taking over our village, but our kids, hubbies, bosses, even though they love us, will monopolize our lives if we let them.  And, society with all of its expectations of us as women and mothers will swallow us whole if we don’t stay strong, stand our ground, and kick convention in the ass with our sexy high heels from time to time.  

So, for those of you that missed it last year, I am re-posting a blog I wrote, “Music has Charms to Soothe a Savage Breast,” to remind all of you and myself the importance of taking time for ourselves, music and good girlfriends!  It was published in November 2011 on Chris Karr’s website, A Crazy Sexy Life.  I have decided to re-post it here, today, because Daisy Chain not only continues to be an integral part of my life, our band is growing bigger and better every day (just like me).  Not only is the beautiful and talented Angela now singing with us but our Goddess and bad ass drummer Isis is back, lovelier and badder than ever.  

Like the magnificent seven, Debi, Raundi, Amy, Diana, Isis, Angela and myself  will continue to rock the boat, rock the ages and rock the summer with our Daisy Chain Tour!  And, you are all invited!  Our first stop: 

Orange County High School of the Arts Commercial Music End of the Year Party

Saturday, June 1st

The Gas Lamp, Long Beach

Doors open at 1:00 pm

 

Quin Murphy Foundation Silent Auction and Celebration

Saturday, June 8th

85 F St. Chula Vista, CA 91910

Starts at 1:00 pm

 

The San Diego Luna Chix Cycling Team Fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Fund

Featuring The Mammary Chronicles and Daisy Chain

Saturday, August 10th

The Bamboo Lounge, Hillcrest, CA

Starts at 6:00 pm

 

Pondwater

Saturday, September 7th

4:00 pm

I hope to see some of your happy shiny faces at our shows.  Send me a message if you need any more info about Daisy Chain, The Mammary Chronicles or if you would like to book a show!

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Music Has Charms to Soothe a Savage Breast

First published on Crazy, Sexy Life November 2011

 

 “Mommmmmmmm, the police are here again! The neighbor is complaining and wants you to stop the music!”

Stop the music? That’s like asking Kris Carr to stop juicing! It’s blasphemy.

Four years ago, six of us crazy sexy forty-something suburban housewives went out on a limb, bucked convention, defied stereotypes and started our own rock ’n’ roll band. There was only one glitch. Not one of us could play an instrument. But that didn’t stop us. We bought guitars and a bass, replaced the couch and coffee table in the living room with drums, amps and a PA system, and hired Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin’s very talented and handsome doppelganger to teach us how to play.

Twice a week, we left the dishes and laundry behind, stealing a few precious moments away from our kids, husbands, “shoulds and ought to’s” to follow our soul and play some rock ’n’ roll. We practiced until we had blisters on top of blisters and that up-up-down-up pattern was ingrained in our brains. Our kids and hubbies thought we were nuts, but I know in my heart they loved our crazy sexy guts.  

I am the one with the smile on my face in the picture above. Oh, wait, we are all smiling. That’s because we are having so much effing fun. I literally feel my endorphins kick in, the negativity leave my body and a sense of all is right with the world when belting out Blondie, KT Tunstall or Joan Jett. “I love rock ’n’ roll. Put another dime in the jukebox baby!”

In fact, not only does it bring me a sense of well-being and peace, I am certain that it has helped me stay sane in the midst of much insanity over these last few years, saving me thousands of dollars in therapy bills. Between the six of us, we could keep a psychologist employed full time trying to make sense of all the crap we have been dealt during our mid-life: financial difficulties, marital stress, parenting issues, job loss and cancer. But, rocking out with our band helps us keep perspective and stay strong.  

It has been proven that music, whether playing it or listening to it, can help heal the body, relieve depression, accelerate the healing process, boost the immune system and lift ones spirits. William Congreve, a playwright from the 17th century brilliantly understood this as well. He wrote, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” Funny, but I always thought this quote was “to soothe a savage beast.” Apparently it gets misquoted often. But just my luck, it is perfect for this blog. Sir Congreve was right. Music certainly helped sooth my savage breast. 

Ten months ago, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. After the initial shock, I refused to feel sorry for myself. I pulled myself up by my sexy bootstraps and got to work. I guzzled green juice, worked out at the gym, partook in dry rubs and daikon leaf baths, ate whole grains and huge organic salads, and took my omega-3s and vitamin D. And, last but not least, I kept on rock’n.  

The docs cut off my breast and the chemo took my hair, but the cancer did not take my spirit. When I was feeling down and out, our band gave me a reason to pick myself up, brush myself off and get my butt to practice. Next to veggies, rocking out with my girlfriends is the best medicine in the world. Like Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain,” although that may have been the ganja.  

According to Dr. Mike Miller, “Music gives us an overall feeling of good, well-being, a sense of euphoria in some cases … and may be one of the best de-stressors, either by playing or even listening to it.” He used high-tech imaging to measure the size of blood vessels while people listened to music. Not surprisingly, he found that “the inner lining of the blood vessel relaxed, opened up and produced chemicals that are protective to the heart.” That’s some powerful stuff. If music can do that for the heart, imagine what it can do for the soul. Plato once said, “Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.” 

Music surely found mine.  

By the way, we call ourselves Daisy Chain. We liked the name because it represents women connected to each other through music. (It also has something to do with multiple female participants, but that is for another site.) Little did we know when we chose the name that daisies were widely used in homeopathic remedies. During the 15th century, it was believed that drinking crushed daisies infused with wine could cure insanity. So does a night rocking out with six beautiful strong women and a bottle or three of organic Pinot Noir.  

Some moms like to shop, we like to rock. Some plan play dates, we book show dates. Some go to the spa, we bring the law. Some play “Farmville,” we play “Margaritaville.” Some believe we are disturbing the peace, we believe it brings us peace. Our band is living proof: In the midst of adversity, annoyed neighbors and cancer, we have found a creative connection to each other and to our own souls playing rock ’n’ roll.  

We recently performed at our biggest show ever, “Cocktails for a Cure,” in honor of both breast cancer awareness month and six women who refused to let anything stop them!  

The damn dishes can wait; my rock ’n’ roll soul is calling.

 

The Big “C”

May 18th, 2013

Early detection does not save lives!  Study after study shows this to be true.  “And yet,” as Peggy Orenstein states in her recent New York Times article, “mammography remains an unquestioned pillar of the pink-ribbon awareness movement.” 

Of course, I needed confirmation on this.  “Is this true?”  I asked my oncologist.  “Is it true that early detection does not save lives?”  “Yes, “she said, “it’s absolutely true!”  In fact, not only does early detection not save lives it has its costs; misdiagnosis, over treatment, and causing unnecessary fear for many many women.  

I have always suspected this to be true.  Now, I finally know it to be true.     

This puts me in a bit of a conundrum.  But before I disclose my dilemma, please read on.

In the article, “Our Feel Good War on Breast Cancer, Orenstein explains that:

“Breast cancer in your breast doesn’t kill you; the disease becomes deadly when it metastasizes, spreading to other organs and bones.  Early detection is based on a theory, dating back to the late 19th century that the disease progresses consistently, beginning with a single rogue cell, growing sequentially and at some invariable point making a lethal leap. Curing it, then, was assumed to be a matter of finding and cutting out a tumor before that metastasis happens.

The thing is, there was no evidence that the size of a tumor necessarily predicted whether it had spread.  According to Robert Aronowitz, a professor of history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society,” physicians endorsed the idea anyway, partly out of wishful thinking, desperate to “do something” to stop a scourge against which they felt helpless.”

Thus, the birth of the American Cancer Society.

Although these physicians had good intentions, pushing for early detection has created a national scare.  What was once awareness, for good reason, is now over awareness resulting in fear and over treatment.  A New England journal of Medicine study of early screening and over treatment estimated “that only 3 to 13 percent of women whose cancer was detected by mammograms actually benefited from the test.” 

Not only does such a small percentage benefit, but over 60,000 women each year in the US alone are “misdiagnosed” with cancer.  These women are diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in situ (D.C. I. S.) or stage Zero.  In-situ means in place.  “D.C.I.S. is not cancer,” explains Laura Esserman, director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s a risk factor.  For many D.C.I.S. lesions, there is only a 5 percent chance of invasive cancer developing over 10 years. That’s like the average risk of a 62-year-old.”

Once a woman is diagnosed with D.C.I.S she usually undergoes a lumpectomy and radiation and is marked as having “breast cancer” for the rest of her life.  And in some cases, women decide on preventative mastectomies.  “We don’t do heart surgery when someone comes in with high cholesterol. What are we doing to these people?” asks Esserman.

As crazy as it may sound, studies have suggested that the majority of these women’s D.C.I.S. will go away on its own if left alone.  And, some tumors are so slow moving they will never metastasize.  According to the article, “Unless it develops into invasive cancer, D.C.I.S. lacks the capacity to spread beyond the breast, so it will not become lethal. Autopsies have shown that as many as 14 percent of women who died of something other than breast cancer unknowingly had D.C.I.S.  And, “By 2020, according to the National Institutes of Health’s estimate, more than one million American women will be living with a D.C.I.S. diagnosis.”

So Esserman is shaking things up and wants to rename D.C.I.S. by removing the big “C!” This is her attempt to help put things into perspective, lesson women’s fear and put an end to over treatment. 

So, if 60,000 of the 240,000 women that are diagnosed with breast cancer each year do not really have cancer, this skews the numbers.  It is no longer 1 in 8 women that get breast cancer.  It is a much lower risk.  Can someone help me with the math please?    

Since early detection has been promoted, it is true that more people are going to the doctors.  According to Orenstein, “More cancers have been detected, more operations performed and more patients have survived their initial treatments.  BUT, the rates of women dying of breast cancer hardly budged.  Those increased diagnoses were not translating into saved lives.”

Orenstein explains, “The disease, it has become clear, does not always behave in a uniform way. It’s not even one disease. There are at least four genetically distinct breast cancers. They may have different causes and definitely respond differently to treatment.”

I was diagnosed with two of the four types of cancer.  I had tumors that fed on estrogen and another called Her2 positive which produces too much of a protein, the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.  Unfortunately, I was not one of the 60,000 women that was over diagnosed and over treated.  Or, shall I say fortunately?  As Orenstein and I both ponder, “Should these women that are diagnosed at Stage Zero, be hailed as survivors or held up as a cautionary tale?”

So here is my conundrum.

But first a picture of Daisy Chain’s performance at Still Water in Dana Point this week.  Thought I should lighten the mood a bit.

Performing "Give Me Some Loving" Blues Brother's version

On behalf of the Susan G. Komen Orange County Affiliate, I have been invited to be part of their Inaugural Survivor Advisory Committee.  The invite is being extended to me because of my experience, expertise and passion for the cause. Those are their words.  The committee will be charged with providing recommendations on strategies to meaningfully engage breast cancer survivors and co-survivors throughout the year, as well as, provide critical insight and perspective on our current affiliate programs, events and activities as it pertains to survivor relevance.  It is quite an honor. 

But, I happen to know that Komen tends to push for early screening.  In fact, of the $472 million dollars raised last year by Komen, 16% went to research and a whopping $231 million went to education and screening.  Komen does acknowledge these findings on their Web site however they continue to pour funds into early detection instead of research for a cure. 

So, is the pink movement hurting more than helping, especially women and men whose lives are most at risk?

 

When I first learned of this, my initial reaction was to take a stand, pull out from the race, and not join the committee.  But, in all honesty, Komen has been a huge part of my healing process.  Personally, I love how Komen has transformed victims into survivors, raised 75 million for research (that is nothing to sneeze at) and helped fund the drug Herceptin which has saved many lives, including my own.  And, the 3 day walk is awesome.  I would not have missed it for the world.  Oh, and I can’t forget The Mammary Chronicles which would have never come to fruition without the need to raise funds for the 3 day walk. 

Remember, there was a day when breast cancer was a socially taboo subject and they would not print the word breast in the newspapers. Instead they called it “female cancer” which is a bunch of bologna because men get it too.  I was a freshman in high school at the time.  I truly thought we were more progressive in the 80’s than that. Today, fundraisers, pink ribbons, “I Love Boobies” bracelets, and “Save the Ta Ta’s t-shirts abound.   

No, Komen has helped change my life and the face of breast cancer.  I truly believe there is more to cancer than just the biology of it and healing is more than surgery and chemo.  So, instead of boycotting them, I will join them and try to make changes from the inside.  I suppose I may be dreaming.  How is little bitty Deanne going to change the world?  I don’t know, but I would feel better trying and failing than not trying at all.     

I have been to two meetings so far to see what it is all about.  It’s pretty cool actually.  I am in the process of helping to plan a survivor’s luncheon in August in which OCSA commercial music and The Mammary Chronicles will be performing in front of 300 survivors and co-survivors. 

OCSA Commercial music - Casey, Luke, Jonathan and Randon performing at the Grammy Museum

I guess I am no longer in a conundrum.  I may not have changed the world yet, but I have changed my mind.  I have made a decision to at least give it a try.  The Inaugural Survivor Advisory Committee it is!  And, although early detection does not save lives, I am convinced that the pink movement does!
 

My Dark Side

May 2nd, 2013

 

“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

 -J.R.R. Tolkein The Fellowship of the Rings

 

 Thank you Ms. Raundi Moore Kondo and Daniel McGinn for helping me get in touch with my dark side.

I am very excited to report that I have taken control of my late night binges and I have lost five pounds this last week.  It feels good not only to fit into my jeans again, but to take back control of something that was beginning to control me.  It is very empowering.

It seems something clicked deep within me after writing my blog on “nothing” last week.  It wasn’t a light bulb moment exactly.  It was more of an understanding.  Writing does that for me.  Or, shall I say the process of writing.  As I take all of those jumbled ideas in my brain, transfer them to a blank piece of paper in an organized fashion, things start to make more sense to me and I can finally understand what I am going through at that time.  And, because I am an over thinker, it feels almost orgasmic to release all that gobbly gook in my head and put it somewhere for safe keeping.  Ahhhh….. It’s a bit like Dumbledore’s Pensieve.   

But some gobbly gook runs so deep that a blog is not enough.  About 95 % of who we really are is hidden in the subterranean level of our being, the subconscious.  These are things that we are not wholly conscious of, or are only partially conscious of, hence the term subconsious.    

So when writing my blog isn’t enough, there is poetry.  Poetry goes where no man has gone before.  It delves into the bottomless caverns of my soul and pulls things out I didn’t even know were lurking in the depths.  And, when I am able to turn my inner editor off, wowzers, I am amazed at what emerges on the blank white pages.  It is truly eye opening, sometimes even shocking. 

It seems I have quite the dark side.  We all do, in fact.  Carl Jung calls it our “Shadow.”  “It is all that lies outside the light of consciousness, both negative and positive.”  “Everyone carries a shadow,” says Jung, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”  

Jung also believed that the shadow is the “seat of creativity.”  So to become more fully conscious the key is to bring some of this Shadow out into the light. 

How?  Our behaviors are one way.  Another way:  music, art and poetry!  Anything creative!    

So, I have decided to get naked in front of all of you today and bare my attempts to shed some light on my dark side through my poetry.

Happy Reading! 

Repeat

Wrap your lips around me

Inhale me deep

Feel me enter your lungs

Your blood stream

Your heart

Hold

Relax

Breathe out

Long

Steady

Into the air

Flick

Wrap your lips around me

Inhale me deep

Feel me enter your lungs

Your blood stream

Your heart

Hold

Relax

Breathe out

Long

Steady

Into the air

Flick

Repeat

Flick

Repeat

Flick

Repeat

Till you have sucked every last bit of me

Down to the final ash

Till there is nothing left to savor

Nothing left to appreciate

Nothing left

Toss me away

Stomp out my fire

Drag me across the concrete with your rubber sole

Still craving more

You bum another

Repeat

 

Forgive ME

Milky white skin, innocent

Jaded by the sun and wind

Clear brown eyes

Dilated by dark chocolate desires

Happy pills, men’s whiskers and coyote tricksters

Longing to fire dance and dance with fire

Naked on a bear skin rug

I shift shape and shape shift

Hand and foot, foot and hand

It’s easy to do

Sugar daddy comes

Making empty promises

Yearning takes hold

Like an empty chair

Inviting, calling

Come to me

Drink me

Lick me

Eat me

 

You squeeze me like two pieces of paper

Bound between a paper clip

Eavesdrop on my heart

Through your snake like stethoscope

Cough on me with vengeance

Spewing your guts

Pound me with your fully semi-automatic assault rifle

Leaving me riddled with holes

Drill me to the core

Flooding me with your liquid venom

Bite me

Till teeth marks pierce my body

Tears drown all hope

Blood turns yellow

And my breasts deflate, dragging on the ground from the weight of you

 

Lying

Your lying makes a loud sound

Like glass shattering

On Saltillo tile

Shards perforate my ear drum

Pierce my body

Stab my gut

And break my already tender heart

Confused and

Riddled with jagged razor sharp fragments

I hang from the rafters

Like constellations in the sky

Trying to pick up the pieces

Some too tiny to reach

Some too big to grasp

All to sharp to forget