Thursday, June 16, 2011


I hold in font of my eyes an image of a leaf on the water. The clear water simultaneously reads brown from the silt below and blue from the skies above. The leaf floats gently, swirls a bit, catches the slow current and moves lazily by. It is sunny and warm in the shade covering the stream. It reminds me of camp summers riding in Colorado, our horses bending their heads for a cool drink while we sip from our canteens. Peaceful, beautiful, calm, centered.

My friend Joanna gave me the image of a leaf on the water when I was telling her of my anxiety about starting chemo tomorrow. "Be a leaf on a stream", she said, and that image came to my mind.

I started out this week in a panic, feeling as though I had put off studying for very important test. Three weeks became two weeks became WHAM! one week with no time to get my life organized before this phase came in. I was supposed to be set up for acupuncture and reiki and have my house cleaned and be meditating and sure as hell be feeling more comfortable and confident that I was at that particular moment. I was supposed to be ready, damn it. I was arrested with dread and fear and disappointment in myself for not preparing to face the chemo better.

But this week the kids went to see their Oklahoma aunties and uncles who welcomed them with open arms and lots of love and gave Nick and me the breathing room we really needed. Days of flexible time and no guilt around being home late from work and relaxed dinners with a man I really love took the anxiety and gave it a coconut butter rub down so that it couldn't stick its sticky claws in quite so deep. I feel somewhat relaxed, that leaf on the stream, just letting myself be.

The past two weeks have been full of interesting observations about my life, too. Things I have always known about myself, but things I think I am coming to understand. This experience has made me more authentic, I think, more willing to stick to things that I believe even though they may not be popular. It's made me more willing to risk at work and in my community life. It's made me realize that this is the shot I get and I need to do according to my true self. There aren't a lot of second chances to do this all over again.

It has also given me insight about something peculiar and telling about my personality that I only just realized yesterday in the car. I had my ipod on shuffle and was listening to a really wonderful mix of music. As the program would dip into the 2,150 songs available, I would find myself intrigued by a song, instantly nostalgic for the memory it evoked or simply enjoying what it had to offer. But shortly into it, my mind would wonder what song was next, effectively ruining the experience of the current song in anticipation of what was to come.

I am hard, hard, hard wired this way. It's not only the way my mind creates and visions new work and ideas, but also makes sense of the world. Anticipating the next song, much like anticipating the next phase, the next treatment, the next reality can be exhausting and allows the monkey mind to run rampant with the endless permutations and combinations that the world of medicine holds.

So tomorrow as they plug me into the machine and we begin the 16 week trip down this potholed path, I am going to keep with that image of the leaf in the stream, of the cool mountain air, the smell of horses and leather bridles, the feel of boots on my feet and nothing to consider but what lies just shortly ahead.

Wish me luck.


  1. holding you close in my heart and thoughts dear friend. this is so beautifully written. you give me so much perspective on my life, the meaning of things, rather the true, real meaning of things.

    love you.

  2. Wishing you all the luck in the world, Fran, and sending all the love I can!