Radioactive

I sit in the subterranean waiting room at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a lady on a loveseat, a patient and her bags.  I packed for a full day in Boston, my bright floral "cancer bag" filled with books, medical records, my water bottle, a portable charger.  I purchased that bag exclusively for this journey and figure I'll either want to burn it or frame it when I'm done with all my hospital appointments.  I've acquired more bags throughout my day, including a snazzy silver tote that Dana Farber gives new patients, filled with useful information for the journey ahead.  I've settled in to wait for my final appointment, rotating between reading bits from one of my many "Cancer book fair" selections, writing in my journal, checking my email, playing a stupid game on my phone.  This final appointment is for a CT scan or a CAT scan, I'm not really sure what the difference is and I think maybe the terms are used interchangeably, but since I'm a cat person I've chosen the latter.  I also think "CAT scan" sounds much more groovy than "CT scan," and if I have to spend my days getting poked and prodded and scanned at a premiere cancer hospital, I may as well pretend there's a disco ball rotating silently overhead.

I've checked in early for this appointment, hoping that they're ahead of schedule and I'll be able to get out of here before the 5 o'clock Boston traffic is upon us.  Although this is my first time at the rodeo, I'm watching and listening to the interactions in the waiting room so I have an idea of what's in store.  I gather that about an hour before my appointment time, a nurse will come along and hand me two Dasani water bottles spiked with "contrast;" this will make my insides light up in such a way that will highlight any cancerous lesions lurking in my internal organs.  Sweet.

I'm texting with friends when a family with a baby sits down to my left.  At first the baby is a solid four chair distance away, but as they hand her along the row I suddenly find myself sitting next to her and I jump into action.  "Excuse me," I say as I gather all of my bags together, scrambling to shove my various distractions away so I can cart them across the room.  "I'm a bit radioactive today and I think it's best if I move over there."  They look at me with concern and confusion in their eyes; it takes just a few minutes before most of the family has left, and only a fellow patient remains.

Five hours earlier I sat in a chair in the Nuclear Medicine Department and received an intravenous injection of radioactive fluid that allows specialists to see if cancer has spread to my bones.  Radioactivity is contraindicated for young children, pregnant women, and government buildings, or so I've been advised.  To ensure that I wouldn't be detained for carrying radioactive material (how is this my reality?!), the bone scan technician gave me a "get out of jail free" card (her words) to carry around for the next 3 days.  I have a radioactive half-life of 6.02 hours.  You'd best respect.

I dutifully drink my spiked water when it's handed to me, watching the clock tick by the 60 minutes required before I'll be bright enough to scan.  When I enter the CAT scan procedure room, the technician with the "maybe I've seen you at a music festival" vibe gives me another IV injection as he describes to me the next installment in my journey through the looking glass.  He explains that when it gets into my veins, this fluid he's injecting will make me feel like I'm peeing my pants.  He assures me that I won't be.  Fantastic.  A voice from the machine starts bossing me around; just like in kindergarten I listen and follow directions well, while I suspiciously eye the signs warning me against looking directly into the lasers.  I tell my fellow hippie that the CAT scan machine looks and feels like an amusement park ride gone wrong.  I'm waiting for a creepy clown to pop out to complete the scene.

Just another weird little Wednesday over here in Cancerland.

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NOTE: this was not today, 7/26/17. This was a few weeks ago. All my scans came back clear from this adventure.

Special shoutout to two friends from high school, Julie Chisholm and Laurie Westgate Rotondo, who hung out with me at different times during this most bizarre of days.  They were my witness to the weird, and the fact that we hung out at Dana Farber after not seeing each other for 2 years (Julie) or more (Laurie) just added to the feeling of an alternate reality

Nuclear.

Cancer Bag. It hangs out with the other bags but we all know it's different.

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This Moment

My high school yearbook photo and quote.  From back when Hammer pants were a thing. #2legit2quit

7.17.17

I’ve been feeling anxious tonight. I think It’s because I’m trying to fit this cancer into my life rather than working my life around this cancer. This isn’t an inconveniently timed head cold that I just need to power through. This is a major life experience, one that I’ve so far felt best about when I’m “being” with it fully, present, alive, each moment in time. There are many lessons available to me and when I show up to retrieve them I feel a deep sense of peace and beauty about this whole experience and it’s place in my life.

Today I felt resistant.  I felt tired of being conscious and present and go-with-the-flowy.  I want to be where I want to be and I want to do what I want to do, cancer be damned.

I brought the kids to the Cub Scout camp bus for 7:30am, which is a full hour earlier than they catch the school bus.  Dropoff is in the Shaw’s parking lot so I popped in after the bus came and grabbed a few essentials.  Walking down the bakery aisle, I found myself drawn to the Hostess Snoballs, like so many times before.  Despite being a 25 year vegetarian (they contain lard), I crave this crazy combination of cake, cream, and bionic coconut marshmallow “matter” a few times a year.  My favorite is when they’re green for St. Patrick’s Day (I’m 50% Irish and March 17 is my half birthday, it all just makes so much sense to me).  The luck o’ the Irish was with me this morning, as the ides of July Snoballs were ACTUALLY GREEN.  Hell, if 2+ straight years of greens (juiced and sautéed and blended, oh my!) for brekkie didn’t prevent cancer, I don’t expect today of the green Snoballs will make too much difference either. 🍀

Our New England summer is in full swing, and in years past that means we operate in “OMG we need to do ALL the fun things in just 2 1/2 months” mode, where almost every weekend is booked before Memorial Day arrives.  It’s exhausting. Today I’ve been thinking about the weeks ahead and contemplating plans that don’t support me while I heal from cancer.  And my shoulders become tense and my breath becomes short and I just can’t see how to make this all work and still honor what my body so clearly needs right now.

So I don’t. I take it back to one day at a time, one moment at a time. “This moment is all that we have, for in this moment is all of life.”

Posted in cancer, Energy, Healing, Health, magic, Motherhood, Opening, Summer, Time | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Trust.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”  ~Ambrose Redmoon

Four weeks ago today I sat in a surgeon’s office in Attleboro and received a diagnosis of breast cancer.  Tomorrow I start chemotherapy at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.  The space between June 13 and July 12 has felt like the longest month of my life.  I made it through with the support of my husband Jerry (bulldog with a pink folder!), loving family members and many dear friends.  As I prepare for the next stage of this healing journey, I wanted to share with you all where I am today.

Hearing that someone we know has cancer (especially someone fairly young and healthy) can be very scary.  The odds that I would be facing down breast cancer at age 40 is 1% (or less, considering the lifestyle I lead).  I can feel people’s fear for me.  I can hear it in their voices on the phone, see it in their faces when we speak in person, and read it in their text messages.  I too started this journey filled with fear.  I felt blindsided a bit by the Universe.  I’ve spent most of my adult life engaging in healthy practices that are supposed to prevent cancer.  How can I be standing here with breast cancer?  How did my body not fight this successfully?  As I’ve moved through the last few weeks of my life, I’ve found my footing again.  I’ve found my deep trust for the wisdom of my body again.  I’ve rediscovered my connection with the Universe.  The body will do whatever it needs to keep us safe and to protect us.  That must mean that my body needed to create this tumor to protect me from something I wasn’t able to see.

I’ve had cancer described to me a few different ways by a few different people.  (Beware all you scientist types…this is how I perceived what I was told by some of these folks, and I may be getting it all wrong).  Jerry, lover of Nova and Through the Wormhole, told me “it’s a byproduct of evolution.  Genes have mutations that have many causes, but most are random.  The mutations that aid in your survival live on in your offspring and those that hinder your survival tend not to.”  An oncologist friend of a friend told me it’s just cells doing something they’re not supposed to do.  My lovely lady scientist friend says that cancer grows due to an error in the immune system–for some reason it doesn’t take care of the rogue cells when it sees them (her company is working on a vaccine for cancer).  An acupuncturist told me it’s a healing mechanism of the body.  The body takes things that aren’t working for us, whether it’s a behavior pattern, a thought pattern, or something else, and puts it into a form (like a tumor) that can be treated and removed.  A master herbalist and detoxification specialist told me it’s what the body does to protect itself.  If there’s too much acid in your body it will create a cancerous tumor to encapsulate that acid.

We live in a culture of fear around cancer.  We live in a culture where we don’t trust our bodies to heal themselves.  I’ve spent years cultivating that trust in my body.  I’ve spent years giving my body what I thought it needed to be healthy and to heal.  If my body allowed a cancerous tumor to grow, then I trust that it knew exactly what it was doing, and that tumor is the access to a higher version of health for myself moving forward.

In the past few weeks I have spent time experiencing depths of fear like I’ve never felt before.  Some steps on this path to healing will bring me to dark places.  My job will be to release whatever negative emotions may hang out there so I can move back into the light again.  It’s tempting to create from the dark spaces.  That’s where all the “what if’s?” live. I’ve dabbled a bit in the “what if’s”–it led me nowhere good.  With Jerry’s help (your head is a bad neighborhood, don’t go there alone!) I recognized that the place to create is not from the dark, it’s from the light.  Go to the dark, release, but come back to the light before you get those creative juices flowing.  That’s the plan.

Although my Dana Farber treatments don’t start until tomorrow, the healing process has already begun.  Acupuncture, reiki (energy healing), food, supplements, medical cannabis, massage, talk therapy, yoga, journaling, laughter, ocean water, sunlight…it’s all part of this journey for me.  I said to a friend last week, this feels like my own personal Olympics.  I’ve been training for years for this, not just with food and what I put in my mouth, but also with the products I use in my home, the chemicals I don’t put on my skin, the monthly massages I receive, the yoga I always return to, the small daily actions I take to choose a healthier and less toxic path, the lenses I view life through.  In the quiet moments, I keep hearing the message that this is a story of healing.  That is what I’m choosing for myself.  That’s where I stand, on the eve of chemotherapy.  If you feel fear in your heart for me, I ask you to release it.  Send me love, light, healing vibes, bad jokes, positive energy, good juju, prayers to God, Jesus, Allah, the Buddha…but trust that you don’t need to fear for me.

I haven’t written much here in the last year, but the funny thing about a cancer diagnosis…it got me writing again, and it will be part of my healing journey.  I’ve been writing a lot and will be posting more.  Some of what I post may be from the early days of my diagnosis, when the fear was overwhelming.  That’s part of my journey too.  Don’t be alarmed, trust that today I am okay.

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Me and my boys…ready to ride the roller coaster of life. The one rule? Don’t get off.

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Bring on the wild beasts, harsh conditions, and harmony.

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Team #baldlife

Posted in Energy, Healing, Health, Life Passages, Overcoming Challenges, Personal Growth, Release, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Going Dark

I’m pretty sure that 10 years ago people didn’t have to “go dark” when they had a down spell. I think we just kept to ourselves a bit. We didn’t accept invitations, certainly didn’t invite anyone over. And then, enter social media.

We live in the age of letting everyone know what you’re doing at all times, so “going dark” ain’t what it used to be. So many of us use social media for business as well as socializing, and that makes it extra tricky. Have you ever had a tough month? A bad quarter? How about a rough year? I’ve had all of those in my lifetime. I think I’ve even had a succession of years that kind of sucked, let’s say 3 or 4 in a row (it’s much easier to look at those with a 15-years-out perspective. While in the midst of it I’m sure I don’t know what the hell was up). I happen to be going through a rough patch right now (length to be determined) and it feels different than when I went through something similar 5 years ago, because now…well, now social media is EVERYWHERE. And what are the rules about all that?

I’ll be honest, I don’t know. I’ve avoided social media as much as possible lately, and have hoped that astute friends would see I’m not posting much and not judge me for it. I’m on social media here and there, bingeing at times (hello, 48 hours post-election). I take care of what I need to. On some days I feel better and you may see some likes from me as I peruse other people’s posts. On other days I lay around in my pajamas and curse the life choices I’ve made. Such is life, eh?

At my family Christmas last week, I spoke to a cousin who said she felt such relief when she recently deactivated her Facebook page. She had 15 friends. I get it. I have over 950. Damn.

We’ve been listening to a lot of Diamond Rugs in our house lately. That may seem like a non sequitur, but their music has felt very relevant lately. At least my kids jam out to their music so we have some positive movement going on.

I spent some time with a dear friend last night, celebrating her birthday. We are on different ends of the parenting spectrum, but both challenged by what’s in front of us. She’s a 5th grade teacher and in our conversation she offered the book “Things Fall Apart” as a source of support, explaining that human suffering is universal, wherever you stand.

This too shall pass. This I know from experience, although as each month drags out it seems interminable. My Christmas wish for myself and all of you: strength, peace, and clarity. Namaste.

(And for non-Yogis who may not understand the full meaning of Namaste–it can be translated as:  “The divine light in me acknowledges the divine light in you.”) 🙏🏻

ADDENDUM:  I feel compelled to add an explanatory note to this post.  There are many aspects to human health.  For some reason, discussing mental health is often taboo while discussing physical health is not.  The fact is:  we all go through ups and downs in our mental wellness, just as we do in our physical wellness.  This post was an acknowledgement of that.  We can’t choose the genes we inherit from our parents.  Knowing we have a family history of heart disease or diabetes can certainly help shape the lifestyle choices we make or the treatments we seek.  The same goes for knowing we have a family history of depression, addiction, or OCD.  I speak openly about the ups & downs of mental wellness in an effort to help normalize it.  I want my two boys to know that going in for a mental health checkup is just as important and available as going in for a physical health checkup.  I don’t want them to feel ashamed about their genetics; I want them to feel empowered about all aspects of their health.  For those of you who reached out to me to check on me or send words of encouragement, I appreciate you.  I’m okay today partly because I was raised in a family that taught me from a young age how to reach out for support when I don’t feel okay.  And for those of you who reached out to me to share that you too have been struggling–thank you for sharing.  You are not alone.

Christmas Pikachu!


Fluffy and Katie LOVE their costumes, can you tell?


Heater hugger extraordinaire


Two Tigers 🐯🐯!!

Posted in Daily Life, Health, Life Passages, Motherhood, Overcoming Challenges, Retreat, Wellness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

#thestruggleisreal

For me, summertime didn’t REALLY exist (in it’s current incarnation) until I had children. Sure, I was once a kid.  And then I grew up and lived in San Diego (where “summer” is a term we use loosely–it’s kind of always summer there).  And THEN…I had a child.  And left San Diego to move back to New England.  And I finally really understood summer.

Summer, although it technically exists in time and space (aka June 20th or so until September 20th or so), it’s really more of a feeling.  It means you don’t have to get up until you want to in the morning.  It means you can make pancakes (or avocado toast, my current fave) for breakfast every  morning if you want to.  It means you can stay up late, eat ice cream every day, and watch stupid TV in the late afternoon instead of doing homework.  Summer = Rest and Play and Fun and BE.

For us, this summer has been a bit odd.  Jerry and I traveled A TON (mostly without the kids and a little bit with the kids).  As I may have mentioned already, I’ve been partying like it’s 2005 (aka before I birthed my first child).  I’ve been to Colorado, Alaska, Vancouver, Seattle, on a Phish run (which is really it’s own stratosphere), and to Newport.  I’m headed for camping, Great Wolf Lodge, Canobie Lake, and laser tag (August is all about the kids).  When I’ve been home I’ve been preparing for the next departure or working my butt off to handle my life in the short time I had available.

And then there was today.  Each boy had a friend over and we went to the pool.  I made all the kids lunch, we all stayed hydrated and protected against the sun, and we even caught some Pokemon on the way to and from, and yet…I spent a good part of the day beating myself up.  In my mind, there were two ways I could spend my time while at the pool–watching webinars on how to improve my website (which is actually something I really need to do) or watching Wentworth (a really good show on Netflix based on an Australian women’s prison–kind of like the Australian Orange is the New Black–thanks for the recommendation Kathy!).  And you know what?  I chose Wentworth.  And then I came home, washed all the towels, sent a child off with his grandmother, and climbed into my bed to drink wine and watch more Wentworth.  Yet I felt guilty that I was doing it.

If I’m truthful with myself, I think this is a struggle that comes up every summer.  And because this summer has been SO FREAKING AWESOME (and full of enriching activities), I’ve avoided it until now.  But here I am, about 1/3 of the way through August, and the “not doing enough” feeling starts to rear it’s ugly head.  I see you, scarcity conversation–and I recognize you for what you are.  Whatever this nonsense is, I promise you it doesn’t exist at the same level in children.  I watched my kids tonight eating nachos and watching stupid TV (in my opinion at least) and they didn’t bat an eyelash at any of it.  So why do we?  Next time I start to get all hung up on wasting a little time here or there (aka the point of summer), I’m going to ask myself WWDCD?  (What would Dylan & Cooper do?)  I have a feeling I would have their approval all day long.

With our dear friend Anne, my mom’s best friend since I was a wee lass.

My boys were on their best behavior on the Amazing Grace, the Newport Harbor tour.

 

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Daddy is the best playground buddy and Pokemon hunter.

This girl.  16 years old and no shame in her game.

Pearl Jam at Fenway Park.  Thank you for 25+ years of memories and an amazing Friday Fenway show!

The Cleary Cousins, circa 1982 or so, 1683 State Road, Plymouth MA.  We tried to recreate this pose in the picture below.

 

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We, the Folk

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~Jimmy Dean

There’s this thing that happens in Newport ’round about the 3rd or 4th weekend in July:  it’s when the folk flow in. We bring with us an energy; you can feel it vibrate all around you as it’s carried on the sound waves from an acoustic guitar.  It’s an energy that stays with you long after you’ve made your last exit through the gates at Fort Adams, an energy that brings with it a not quite asleep, not quite awake, pseudo-dream state, that space where seeds turn into thoughts turn into possibilities turn into visions turn into reality, and maybe it’s all kind of the same anyway in this beautiful triangle where Newport + life + folk music + energy combine.

We flowed through the gates of the Festival bright with the memory of last year’s pinnacle performance.  Would this year’s Folk meet the mark?  As in life and gravity, the laws of physics always apply.  We can’t truly know the highs without the lows; we cannot truly expand unless we are also willing to contract.  What felt exceedingly special about last year’s Festival was the one-ness that occurred on Friday at the Fort as Roger Waters, My Morning Jacket, festival-goers and festival producers joined forces to create an epic performance that will be referenced for many years to come; even the weather got in on the act.  Last year caused a ripple that stretched beyond the bounds of the Newport Triangle; the world took note. Somebody somewhere who has created a system to weigh and measure and distinguish such events as festival experiences thus awarded Newport Folk the Festival of the Year 2015 (as I learned yesterday by skimming a review of 2016’s Festival written by Ben Kaye of The Consequence of Sound).  Did that draw different folk to the Festival this year?  Perhaps.  But it also drew many of the same folk back.  And we folk know how to flow.

At first glance, Newport may seem to be a space like many others where there are clear distinctions between artists and patrons, musicians and fans, producers and attendees.  The fact is, we are all creating, all the time, constantly.  Some expressions vibe on an output level, some vibe more on an intake.  Just as the tree and human body experience is closely interwoven through the exchange of CO2 and oxygen, so too is the life of a musical note given breadth and movement by the physical expression of those around to feel and hear it.  We saw this happen in the Museum Stage on Sunday in the dance hall created by those of us lucky enough to find our way in at just the right time to hear the Savoy Family Cajun Band.  Here in Newport we the folk have got a job to do too.  We help create the space for magic to happen, building off an energy that’s been held in trust by the walls of Fort Adams through the generations, an energy that’s orchestrated and curated by the powers that be of Jay Sweet and company, of production and operations and foundations and advisors and boards.  For all the hours that go into a festival, all the phone calls, meetings, logistics, and details, all we have to do is show up, let go, and receive.

As we step across the hallowed threshold each year, how many of us question if our experience will measure up to the magic of years past?  Magic is funny though, it ebbs and flows and shifts and transforms in its own right.  Maybe my brand of magic isn’t your brand of magic; what delights and mesmerizes me may not do the same for you.  But that’s okay, it’s to be expected–go seek your magic and I’ll seek mine.  My 2016 brand of magic was less likely to be found on the Fort Stage and more likely to be found on the Museum Stage.  It was less likely to be found while crossing familiar paths and more likely to be found in walking where others were not and dancing in the company of strangers.  We found magic in our conversations with vendors, we formed bonds with those we formed lines with, we inspired, delighted and amplified those around us by our beings and our presence and our vibes.

This Folk Festival was more educational for me than in years past.  Drawn to the Museum Stage for the Savoy Family Cajun Band (the highlight of my festival experience), I caught the story of how New Orleans and Newport became forever intertwined when in 1964 the Folk Festival first introduced Cajun music to the world outside of Louisiana, much to our delight.  As the band’s patriarch told it, Cajun music was clouded with a bit of shame in Louisiana in those days; Newport gave it a space to shine as it was received by a whole new audience.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

The Bob Boilen show at Jane Pickens Theatre on Saturday night was phenomenal.  Our crew can most often be found at Newport Blues Cafe late night, enjoying the company of Deer Tick and Friends, a different kind of master class than “Your Song Changed My Life.”  Bob Boilen’s production, echoing his book of the same name, let us peek into the artists’ minds as they described what brought them to play the kind of music they play and the impact a specific song had on their experience as artists and human beings.  We watched an artist confuse the lines to her favorite song (I didn’t know until you told us, Kam!); she owned it onstage and came back stronger and more present, vulnerable and open, and brought her audience there too.  As Mr. Boilen pointed out, we are all human; when we allow our humanity to shine with our perfect imperfections we often forge our strongest connections.

We can’t ignore the give and take that occurs at the Festival, on all levels, all the time.  We’re responsible for our contributions to the soup.  I love the idea that we get to show up, take part and receive, but also that we get to say.  If we don’t like the vibe we can change it with a smile or a kind thought.  There are those I spoke to that were frustrated by lines or by what they say were newfound inconveniences this year.  As so many have said before me, the only constant in life is change.  The more we flow and the less we resist, the more the shifts in life occur simply as an experience of “where we are now” rather than a traumatic event that we need to get through.

We’ll be back next year no doubt, all with a year’s worth more of experiences under our belt.  We’ll rely on Jay and company to do their job, and we’ll do ours.  I’ll smile at you if we share space at next year’s Festival, and you’ll smile at me, and together we’ll send this message of peace and love and understanding out to the world yet one more time.

Until we meet again…

XO, Danielle









Posted in Energy, Experiences, magic, Music, Newport Folk Festival, Opening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Space to Release

Clench.  Grip.  Tighten.  Hold On.

Relax.  Open.  Loosen.  Release.

And so between two extremes the pendulum swings…back and forth, back and forth.  Or does it?

I just spent a week in Colorado.  The first five days were planned, with almost every hour accounted for, allowing a small amount of time for flexibility and the unexpected.  Jerry and I celebrated 11 years married on Sunday May 29th, and My Morning Jacket was playing at Red Rocks for the weekend.  It was a trip where all the stars aligned:  our flights were free using Southwest miles; we had a free place to stay thanks to the generosity of some friends who were out of town for the holiday weekend; we were hooked up with amazing seats courtesy of our friends who work in music promotion in Denver.

On Friday night we ventured to Boulder.  The ladies we were visiting had booked a Monday through Wednesday trip to Steamboat Springs to unwind and relax after the weekend of music.  They invited me to join them.  A master of spontaneity I am not.  But I DO recognize a gift from the Universe when I see one, and this was clearly that.

For me, the last few months have been all about holding on (at times by a thread). I held onto my 6 year old son as I watched him endure severe pain and undergo surgery for a broken arm.  I held onto my 9 year old’s first pet (Fluffy the guinea pig) as we attempted to rehabilitate her from a fall that threatened to permanently damage her ability to walk.  I had been holding onto fear and worry along with some shame and embarrassment (what kind of parent has two “children” with major limb damage within a 3 week period!?).  While we weathered these most recent storms of life, I clenched my teeth, slept lightly, hugged my cat for therapy, and held onto the knowledge that this too would pass.

We live in a culture that encourages holding on.  “Hang in there!” we say to our friends going through tough times.  We admire perseverance and determination in people.  We celebrate that aspect of our human race that battles on, overcomes, and never says die.  With so much “hanging on,” how do we have space for new energy and experiences to come our way?

When I received the invitation to stay on for a couple of extra days and take a road trip through the mountains to the hot springs with the ladies…how could I say no?  Jerry encouraged me to make it work, and my mom was happy to continue feeding the kids so I could feed my soul.  Jen and Sonya (my Steamboat Springs road-tripping friends) were willing to shift their plans a bit to help make it workable for me.  They planned to leave later on Monday (so I could spend a little more time with Jerry as we closed out our anniversary weekend) and return earlier on Wednesday (so I could make a flight that wouldn’t cost any additional miles).

We set out with an intention to release and renew, to enjoy mountaintop meditations and hot springs massages, to eat great food and drink great wine, to hike and laugh and connect.  We NAILED it.

For me, the RELEASING started in Denver, as I enjoyed a more relaxed schedule, explored the beauty of new scenery, adjusted to the change in altitude, and danced my face off to Tom Petty/Mudcrutch and My Morning Jacket.  The releasing continued in Steamboat Springs as we went with the flow, massaged and soaked out our tensions, and stayed open to magic.

At the core, we are all energy.  By letting go of the energy, emotions, habits and beliefs that no longer serve us, we make way for a new future to open up.  I spent the two days leading up to our Colorado trip cleaning out my closet and drawers, an action that seemed somewhat impractical at the time (how about using those 2 days to pack and get the house and kids set up?!) but now seems perfectly in alignment with what was about to go down.  It was a deep purge, and I cleared out some items from 12+ years ago:  before marriage, before children, back when I was a San Diego resident.  If our drawers are filled with clothes that no longer fit or suit us, how will we make space for those that do match our bodies and style right now?  If our heads and hearts are filled with pain and stress and worry from the experiences of months and years gone by, how will we be free and open to enjoy the wonder of all that life has to offer today?

My first night sleeping in Steamboat Springs, I noticed a few things.  I had some CRAZY lucid dreams, which is apparently quite common when visiting higher altitudes.  I had some difficulty breathing while sleeping that first night, and my normal sleep position (on my side, hugging a pillow or a cat, shoulders hunched) wasn’t going to allow me the space I needed in my lungs to breathe comfortably.  I was forced into a new position, lying on my back with my arms wide open (with an occasional hug for Dan, Sonya’s canine companion, to help ground me in reality after some intensely vivid dreams).  I embraced this openness as my second theme for the week.  As I experienced one of the best massages of my life at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, I alternately focused on those mantras: Release and Open.  Release and Open.  Release and Open.

On Wednesday morning I got a call from Southwest that my flight was canceled.  I re-booked it for Thursday midday, to coincide with Jen’s flight out from Denver.  We ladies were able to spend a leisurely day in Steamboat Springs and one more night in Boulder together.  Sonya only had to make one trip to the Denver airport.  I even got a refund for my Early Bird Check-In, making the flight less expensive than the one I traded in.  I connected in Fort Lauderdale and spent a few extra hours in the airport there due to bad weather in Texas.  The delay allowed me to finish taking notes on some final lectures for school (yes, I graduated 2 1/2 months ago) and allowed Jerry to squeeze in a Dark Star Orchestra show in Providence before picking me up at the airport.

I came across this picture on Instagram upon my return home:

Idil Ahmed

If holding on isn’t going so well…maybe try on letting go?  Where are you holding onto energy that doesn’t honor who you are today or the future that you’re creating?

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This post is dedicated to all those who helped make magic happen in Colorado, especially Jerry for encouraging the reverse Ummm, Babe and my mom and boys for releasing me for the week.

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Here’s what Jerry and I were up to 11 years ago on Sunday May 29th…Balboa Park, San Diego

 

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Having been out to Red Rocks before, Jerry thought I would appreciate seeing the venue before the craziness of a concert. He was right. It was incredible.

 

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Rainbow over Red Rocks. It felt like we were in Ireland. I could just hang out in the parking lot and be happy.

 

Nordic Lodge

This is where we stayed in Steamboat Springs (photo courtesy of expedia.com). Owner/operator Grzegorz (you can call him Greg) was Ah-mah-zing. He nailed it with every recommendation. If ever in Steamboat Springs, you should stay here too (as Gregor would say, “It’s a no brainer!”).

 

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See that little house at the top of the mountain? That’s where we meditated during one of our hikes.

 

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The massage hut at Strawberry Park, where I met Shama with the healing hands

 

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The amazing beauty of the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, CO

 

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One last photo on our way back to Boulder from Steamboat Springs.

 

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