Joy or Breath… Which Came First?

I awoke from surgery very groggy, as one would expect.  As I write, an undercurrent of lethargy still exists with every breath I take.  While the anesthesia wears off, I feel a mixture of that same lethargy, combined with increasing soreness.

Yet through the many feelings I’m experiencing, the one that stands out and trumps all others is the feeling of Joy.

From the moment I became aware I was out of surgery, although I hadn’t yet opened my eyes, I felt joy.  Not happiness, not contentment, but the joy of knowing: It’s Over.

The realization that that Joy existed within me, coupled with knowing This Chapter is Closed felt like falling softly into the most beautiful, fragrant field of flowers.  I allowed myself to stay there, remaining completely still, not letting on to the nurses hovering around me that I was beginning to awaken.

It was a sweet secret I was enjoying, all by myself.

As I lay there, I listened to the nurses.  One sounded extremely annoyed that someone in the operating room had allowed my body to get so cold.  As they wrapped me in warm blankets, I noticed my teeth were chattering.  My fingertips and toes were a bit numb.  But I remained in my placid, blissful state.  Yes, I felt the cold, but I couldn’t be bothered by it.

The cold would not ruin the warmth radiating from within: the joy.

I carried that joy home with me.  It’s difficult to explain in words the feeling I’ve been experiencing.  It’s as if, although I knew everything was okay (my brain understood that the cancer had been removed), I had been in so much discomfort, that upon waking and being able to breathe freely, I began to inhale and exhale joy with every breath.

The simple act of unlabored breathing was a clear sign that a shift had taken place and what was before, no longer was the case.

I believe this surgery marked the end of a chapter in a way I hadn’t foreseen.  It has marked closure to what was.  And now I feel even more grateful for what is.

So… What IS for me?

~ my breath, soft and unencumbered IS
~ a stillness that feels like a balancing of spirit IS
~ joy, that has risen to the surface IS
~ a gratefulness I thought was already present, IS even more

What IS for you today?


Turn it Around

It’s no secret: I’m a reader.  My favorite solitary past-time is reading silently, my dog at my feet and a cup of tea within reach.

This past weekend the weather was dreadful.  Rainy, cold, dreary…a perfect day to read.  Recently, my friend sent me the first three chapters of a manuscript he’s been working on.  I’ve been so eager to dive into it.  Finally, the timing was right.  Husband playing golf, boys playing nicely upstairs, tea beside me, dog at my feet, AND the fireplace going – I was ready.

As I opened the document on my laptop, so excited for what awaited me, I felt a quiet tugging.  I waved it away.  But it quickly came back.  What was this?  Annoyed, I regained my focus, only to feel the tugging once more.

The tugging led my eyes to a stack of papers and booklet I was supposed to read from my doctor’s office for my upcoming surgery.  My mood immediately plummeted.

I know myself well enough to know that I wasn’t going to be able to allow myself to enjoy reading my friend’s manuscript until I read my “homework assignment” first.

I could’ve tried to restart the manuscript.  I could have even tried talking myself into why I deserved to read what my heart wanted to read over what my mind was telling me I should read.  But when you know how you operate, there’s no need for such mental gymnastics.

With an audibly heavy sigh, I pushed away my laptop, walked over to the stack of papers, and began reading.  Pre-op instructions, check.  Post-op instructions, check.  Risks involved, check.  Booklet of way too much information that made my head spin and had me question what the hell I was about to do, check.

Practically three hours later, in a horrible mood, I was done.

Why the foul mood?  I made the choice to read the material, didn’t I?  So why was I so irritated?  Had what I read made me apprehensive?  A little.  But I know doctors have to include all the CYA stuff.  So, what was that specific feeling I could sense, but not pinpoint?

Ah, gotcha:  Resentment.

I resented the length of the activity, the content, how my heart’s desire was to do something else.  I resented all of what comes with undergoing another surgery.

Whoa!  That last one was news to me.  See, I’ve really been looking forward to this upcoming procedure.  Currently I have these temporary implants in place, called tissue expanders (their name clearly explains their purpose), and they are more than a little uncomfortable.

This upcoming surgery will replace them with permanent implants, which my doctor assures me, will feel MUCH better.  I understand I’m going to wake up and feel like a new person, able to breathe unlabored for the first time in months, and with much less tightness and pressure in my chest.

So why, if my brain knows these things, did I still feel resentment?  I chose to read the material over my friend’s manuscript.  I know how much I’ve been looking forward to this surgery, well, its outcome at least.

Simply put, I was having a human moment.

So often I practice Letting Go and Trusting…they’ve become second nature to me.  But that doesn’t mean I go there immediately in every situation.  I, like you, am quite human.

Acknowledging what’s going on is the first step in Letting Go.

Although I want the outcome that the surgery will provide, the tasks between now and then:  reading the risks, the statistics, the must do’s and must not do’s pre and post op, preparing myself mentally, preparing my children, making my final lists of questions to ask, of errands to run, getting the house ready for me being out of commission, the thought of that sterile, cold environment again, the IV, additional scars, all of it…, became overwhelming, and resentment surfaced.

Once I acknowledged its presence, once I was able to see and connect the dots, I was not only able to Let Go, I was able to make a much longer list of reasons to be grateful.

You know I was diagnosed early.  You know the surgeons removed all of it.  You know there was no need for me to have chemo or radiation.  So that’s where I started with my long list of gratitude, and I didn’t stop until the feeling of resentment dissipated.

Are you feeling resentful about something?  Angry?  Annoyed?  Maybe you simply feel a bit off.  If you want to be set free, try making a gratitude list; it’s the fastest way I know to turn it around.  Before you know it, you’re on a roll and your mood is soaring.  You’ll be flat-out AMAZED at what gratitude can cure.

Trust me.


My Cup Runneth Over: Pure Love and Gratitude

Here is just one of the MANY reasons I’m thankful this Thanksgiving week!

My son shares why he’s thankful this Thanksgiving:

Just eight weeks ago I got home and my mom said very slowly, “Christian, I’d like to talk to you.”  So I sat down and yet again she said slowly, “I have breast cancer.”

When it happened, then four weeks since telling me, she came out of the hospital.  And I was scared.  More scared than I’d ever be for myself.  And as she walked toward us, me, my dad, and my brother, I swear we were all thinking the same thing, My mom is the best person ever.

I think it was amazing she could be so brave, but not just for herself, but for family.  And that’s twice as brave.  She is the best mom.  And this is one of the gagillion wonderful things she’s done for us.  I love my mom.”

My cup runneth over….



Here I sit, Friday morning, experiencing this deep feeling of JOY.  It began day before yesterday, the first day my doctor released me to resume ALL normal activities.

I quickly asked, “Can I ride my bike?  How about lifting weights?”  He confirmed that I could, but warned me to ease into a workout routine, saying, “Let’s not start with the PX90, okay?  How about some Richard Simmons?  Try that first.”

I got the message.  Start slowly.  But rather than choosing one of the extremes he jokingly mentioned, I went back to my all time favorite: Jillian Michaels!  Sure, I couldn’t do a push-up.  I modified anything high impact to low, and during exercises I previously would’ve used ten pound hand weights, I used three’s.  But I did it!  Every circuit.  Every rep.  And it felt SO good!!

During the cool down, I glanced at my phone:  9:34 AM.  Whoa!  Could it really be?  Six weeks ago, at precisely that time, I was in surgery.  The first surgeon was still working, the second one not yet begun.

Much later that afternoon, a friend mentioned to me how happy I sounded.  I thought, “Yep.  Those ‘post exercise endorphins’ were still kickin’ in high gear.”  But wait, my workout had been that morning.  It was almost dinnertime.

What I was experiencing, and still continue to experience two days later, is the feeling of JOY.  It’s as if my Joy Meter is on high, pointing to the stars.  This is a joy that comes from not only knowing I am Whole and Healed, but also a joy that comes from knowing I’m BACK and HEALTHY.

For a few months I had felt different, and not in a good way.  I could feel eyes on me…and it wasn’t the sort of attention I was comfortable receiving.  I didn’t feel “normal,” whatever that means.  Being able to drive was my first milestone, providing the independence I desperately craved.  But this, this was different.  This joyous feeling comes from an inner feeling of, “Yes, I can!”

Let me tell you – – when that feeling is missing from within, then suddenly reappears, you stop and take notice, issuing immediate gratitude.

Stop and do a little inner joy check for me.  Where is your Joy Meter?  Low?  Medium?  High?  Somewhere along the spectrum, but you’re not sure where?  Are you one of the blessed ones whose needle is pointing to the stars?  Regardless of where you are, would you be willing to share with the rest of us?  To help us learn through you?

For me, my ‘to the stars’ Joy Meter stems from the feeling of, “Yes, I can!”  And it feels like a lot of things.  I feel:  Whole.  Healed.  Back.  Healthy.  Loved.  Grateful.  Joy.  And yes, SORE.  :-)  [Jillian Michaels does not mess around!]