Michael A. Singer

Today I pulled the book “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer off my shelf and began flipping through.  I usually underline or highlight in books I’ve read.  I flipped through the whole book and found one page with an underline on it.  Here is the whole paragraph, I’ll underline the part that was underlined in my copy.

“Your cage is just like this.  When you approach the edges you feel insecurity, jealousy, fear, or self-consciousness.  You pull back, and if you are like most people, you stop trying.  Spirituality begins when you decide that you’ll never stop trying.  Spirituality is the commitment to go beyond, no matter what it takes. It’s an infinite journey based upon going beyond yourself every minute of every day for the rest of your life.  If you’re truly going beyond, you are always at your limits.  You’re never back in the comfort zone.   A spiritual being feels as thought they are always against that edge, and they are constantly being pushed through it.”

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Angels

Angels (1-29-10)

They arrive in our lives

right time

right place

Pick us up,

Dust us off,

Dry the tears,

save us

from the shadows that loom ahead

They’re there because

we’re not

far off and lost

too scared to see the path

they give us the strength

encouragement

love

help us move through the world

again

unafraid of the corners and dark places

hold our hands as we face them

dare to walk the darkness by our side

shining their light

loving us

leading us ever closer

to that which will

mend our

broken hearts

Be Like A Child

I stopped going to church when I went to college.  I was finally own my own (sort of) and could make the decision without any consequences.  Except for a brief period where I visited and joined the church I would eventually get married at, I chugged a long without the assistance of ministers or Sunday school teachers.  I was happy with that decision, relieved even.  The battle I’d fought (inwardly if not outwardly) every Sunday was now non-existent.

For the most part the people in my life left me alone on matters of religion until I had a baby.  When Bella was born I started to hear “You need to find a church.  It is important for children to be raised in church.”  I didn’t know if they were right or wrong, I just knew I didn’t want to set foot in a church.  When I finally discovered and began attending Unity Eastside, some people were happy for my girls.  Others were not because Unity was not the right kind of church.

This week I started reading “The History of God” by Karen Armstrong.  While reading, this idea (from Jesus) came to mind:   “Unless you become like little children, you cannot know the meaning of Life, for your minds must be cleared of the falsehoods of this realm if you are to be taught Eternal Truth.” Another thought that came to mind was something my friend @darkwulfe stated in a comment a couple of weeks ago.  He said this:  “So just out of curiosity…would this support my theory that God did not create man in HIS image, but rather MAN creates god in HIS image? Would it not indicate that the concept of God is influenced by the ebb and flow of society? Just a thought :-)

I think that young children are about as close to God as you can get.  They are empty vessels, open channels.  They acknowledge the mystery and wonder in things.  They live and love like the only moment is now.  As time goes by they start to learn the ways of the world.  They begin to emulate the people that surround them.  We decide then that we must show them what is right.  We start to teach them about God, assuming they require our knowledge, without even considering they only recently emerged from God.   The problem that comes with this is that everyone has their own personal definition of God.  We create God in our image and then introduce him to our children.

These days, I take my daughters to church because they love church.  The people there are family to them.  The focus in our Unity church is a God of love.  That is what I want my girls to learn, whether they name it God or not.  I want to teach them love, compassion, and forgiveness.  I want my every action to represent those qualities.  I don’t want them living by the rules of an organization, but by the golden rule.  There are certain things I have to remind myself of.  I know that my girls are always watching me, even when I think they are not.  I don’t always get it right, which is of course why I can write about it here…because it is my lesson too.

Mehmet’s Click (pt.2)

Fears Realized

When I got back I took the next day off and escorted my wife to get her biopsy done.  The doctor explained what was to be done and quite frankly it seemed barbaric.  Apparently they had to insert a rather large gauge tube into the breast tissue and then insert a tool through the tube to snip a piece of material from the suspected area.  The tube was to be guided with the assistance of some sort of real time X-Ray.  My wife hates needle and this was like living her worse nightmare.  What’s worse is that the tube had to be inserted twice because they “missed” the first time.  When the procedure was done I could see the ordeal that my wife had gone through without her even saying a word to me.  Clearly painful and she looked emotionally and physically drained.  We were told that they would send the results to her doctor and the he would call us in a couple of days.  More anxious waiting days….

We finally got the call three days later from the doctor that he had the results and would like us to come in and discuss.  I knew better than to ask for the results over the phone.  We arrived at the doctor’s office and were met by a grim, serious face.  He wasted no time in telling us that it was indeed cancer.  This was the first time we both had actually heard him say the word “cancer”.  I became acutely aware of myself focusing in on the doctor’s voice, face and mannerisms…. I was able to tell that he was nervous, and a little shaken.  Again I tried to take the lead and started to question him about what this all means.  He basically explained that he would like to schedule surgery to have a mastectomy done right away to “deal” with the cancer for it was rather large.  I got angry and queried as to how that could be.  I pointed out that my wife had been getting her mammograms and checkup on a regular basis.  Again the doctor appeared nervous and tried to explain that cancer was a very difficult thing to detect even with the best of efforts.  He suggested that we seek a second opinion but said that we need to take care of it right away.  I looked over at my wife and again could clearly see that she was depending on me to manage this situation.  I thanked the doctor and we left.

On the drive home this time there was a lot of dialog between me and my wife.  We were clearly fighting for her life now.  I was angry.  I was angry at the clinic for saying that they were trying to contact my wife and had to send a letter.  We had been going to that clinic for years.  What did they mean they did not have the correct phone numbers?  I was angry at the doctor for not making me feel at ease and confident in him.  I was angry at the world for having this happen to us.

The “Project”

I am a project manager.  I began to deal with this as I would any other project that I have been given to manage.  I started defining tasks, assigning resources, establishing timelines, determining risks and obstacles and developing criteria for success which was to keep my wife alive.  I began in earnest to research all that I could and find out everything there is to know about breast cancer.  I asked for copies of all the lab work, X-Rays and the biopsy results.  Fear is driven by ignorance and I was not going to let my wife down.  My life’s purpose had now changed dramatically.  I can tell you that I learned more about cancer than you would care to know.  But I was not afraid anymore.  Cancer can be beat and is not the death sentence that it once was.  Through my research I determined that the best place that was going to give my wife a chance was The City of Hope in Duarte, CA.  This hospital was just 20 minutes away and is recognized as a leader in the treatment and research of cancer.  I made an appointment to see a breast cancer specialist for a second opinion.

Knowledge Gives Hope

When we arrived at the hospital I could already tell that this was going to be our home.  As we walked in the doors we were greeted by a very kind older gentleman who introduced himself as Franklin. He was a volunteer that made us feel like we were walking into his house.  He asked he could help us get started and escorted us the appropriate desk for us to start our journey.  We would become very fond of Franklin in the months to come.

I could tell right away that everyone in the hospital was caring and compassionate.  They all knew what we were there for and understood our fears and anxieties.  There were always smiles all around with caring eyes.  We met with a representative of the hospital who squared away our paperwork for the insurance and such which even that seemed to go effortlessly.  He then called for someone to escort to the “women’s center” a branch of the hospital that deals exclusively with breast cancer.  When we got there we were met with a counselor that helped us determine what the next steps were and arranged to have a battery of tests done before any type of recommendation of treatment was to be made and that the tests were to begin immediately.  Everything was like clockwork.  The whole place spoke of nothing but efficiency and experience.  We were then escorted to another part of the hospital where we were processed to get every type of scan known to man.  Pet Scan, Cat Scan, Bone Density Scan, Muga Scan, EKG, X-Rays and yes unfortunately another biopsy.

The biopsy was equally as painful but the difference was that my wife felt like she was part of a family.  They held her hand during the entire procedure and insisted that I be present to make her feel at ease during all of the tests that were given to her.  They provided earphones and hot blankets during the tests so that she could relax and listen to music.  This biopsy also served to mark where the tumor was located by placing a small “clip”  for the surgeon anticipating the option of doing a lumpectomy as opposed to a full mastectomy.

There was no waiting for results and in a few hours we were again like clockwork we were escorted to another part of the hospital to meet with her team of doctors.  We met with the surgeon, the oncologist, and the radiation specialist.  The explained in great detail the results of all the tests and had already formulated a plan of treatment to “cure” my wife with several different options.  The option that they recommended because of the size of the tumor was to start chemo therapy to shrink the tumor so that they could save my wife’s breast and remove the shrunken tumor with a lumpectomy rather than performing a full mastectomy.  This was to be followed by radiation therapy to provide additional treatment for any remaining cancer cells that might linger behind.  They made no attempt to sugar coat anything and let us know up front that this was going to be an ordeal that was going to last about a year.  They also let my wife know up front that it was going to involve losing her long beautiful hair.  They scheduled an appointment to see an ”image” counselor at the hospital that specializes in dealing with the affects of cancer and it’s treatments and how to fit and care for wigs and care for the skin.  They explained that of course it was going to depend on how her body and tumor responded to the chemo and radiation and that many adjustments may be necessary along the way.  During the entire consultation there was nothing but confidence and positive vibrations.  This was something that they deal with everyday all day.  As a project manager I immediately felt as if I had chosen the right partner for this project and felt like the odds of success which again was keeping my wife alive was excellent.

Mehmet’s Click (pt.1)

The Dented Can on the Store Shelf

Life changing moments

It started out as a typical day for me almost two years ago.  I went out the mailbox to retrieve the mail and saw an ominous brown envelope.  No markings and it was addressed to my wife.  I generally open all the mail anyway so I tore it open.  It was from the clinic that my wife and I go for all of our checkups and general medical needs.  I almost did not read the body of it figuring that it was just the results or her mammogram that she had just had about a week ago.  She faithfully has her checkups done and so I was kind of expecting the results anyway.  But this seemed different… It was not on the typical form letter that I was used to seeing.  The letter read that they had been trying to contact her and that she should call her doctor right away.  My heart sank.

It quickly ran back into the house and immediately called the clinic and asked to speak with the doctor.  The doctor’s nurse answered the call and I again asked to speak with the doctor.  The nurse asked what this was in regards to.  I explained about the letter we received.  She hesitated then explained that my wife was the one that they need to talk to.  With frustration building in my voice I explained that I was her husband and that I just wanted to know what this was all about.  Without hesitation this time the nursed launched into a standard policy speech explaining that this information could not be released to anyone but the patient.  I repeated my request but was again met with standard verbiage. I politely thanked the nurse and slammed the phone down hurting my hand in the process.  My ears were red and hot with anger.  I would have to wait until she came back from work.  I considered calling her at work but decided that was a bad idea.

The rest of the day went by like some nondescript black and white movie.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything and had a terrible urge to drink.  Of course I didn’t so I just turned on the television and watched like some sort of zombie not listening to anything but the terrible dialog that was going on in my head.  What was worse was I was leaving on a business trip the next day.

My wife arrived home at her usual time and I tried to have normal chit chat with her about her day. I asked if she had received any calls from the clinic.  She gave me a puzzled look and said no.  I couldn’t stand it any longer and handed her the wrinkled balled up letter that I had stuffed in my pocket and read a thousand times.  Upon reading it she didn’t even look at me and immediately picked up the phone to call the doctor.  It was 5:30pm.  The doctor answered and told her that he needed to see her right away and to make an appointment for the morning.  Of course I was right next to her and asked her to ask what this was all about.  The doctor said it was best if she could come in.  I interrupted her and reminded her that I was going to be out of town for the next few days.  She could sense the anxiety and the sense of urgency in my voice and explained to the doctor that she would like for me to accompany her on her visit and if there was a way that she could see him today.  The doctor said that he was just leaving but could see her first thing in the morning.  She explained to the doctor that I was leaving town.  Upon hearing this, the doctor agreed to see us.  The pit in my stomach sank even deeper.  This is bad… This is real bad…

Confronting your fears

My wife looked scared now.  I was scared.  I asked if she was ready and she replied that she was and so we got in the car and left.  The drive to the doctor’s office was a short one but it seemed like the longest car ride I had ever taken.  I made some feeble attempts to say that it was probably nothing and not to worry.  We both knew that was a lie….

We got to the clinic and the doctor was waiting for us and took us into his office and shut the door behind him.  He sat down behind his desk with us seated in two chairs side by side in front.  He picked up her folder and pulled out some notes.  He said that the results of her mammogram indicated something “suspicious” that he wants checked out right away.  He asked for her to disrobe so that he could take a look.  After she disrobed he began to probe with his hands my wife’s left breast.  He didn’t say much… He asked her to dress again and went to sit down again behind his desk.  He looked at both of us and said that he “feels” something “suspicious” as well and would like for her to schedule a biopsy.  This news hit us like someone splashed us with a bucket of ice water.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I looked over at my wife and the blood had clearly drained from her face.  She looked up at me with a look that clearly indicated that she wanted; no, she needed me to take the lead on this.  My wife has always been the strong one.  I was usually the whiny, needy one but I clearly saw that this was my time to take charge.

Despite my urge to fall to the ground and crawl up into a ball I quickly composed myself and took the role that was bestowed upon me.  I started questioning the doctor about odds, treatments, timelines and expectations.  The doctor recognized my efforts to be strong for my wife and slowed me down and said it would be best to wait for the results of the biopsy before we discuss next steps.  I explained again that I was going to be out of town for the next few days.  He said that the biopsy could wait until I got back.  We thanked the doctor for seeing us and left.

The drive home was quite.  When we got home we both did not feel like eating and actually went to bed early.  As we lay there we both held each other and cried.  In the morning I assumed my role as leader and made arrangements to have the biopsy done on the next day that I was to arrive back from my trip.  I kissed my wife like on our wedding night and picked up my bags and left without looking back for I did not want her to see the tear in my eye.  The next few days went by like a blur.  Each night I called to assure her that everything was going to be okay.

*Stay tuned for part 2 of the story, tomorrow.*


Stories Shared

I went back and forth on what I would post today (Monday the 25th).  What I knew is that I wanted what you read here to prepare you for what you will read the next three days (assuming you return).  I came up with the idea for “Click Stories” after one of my best friends, Amy,  died.  It was a way for me to take some of the writing pressure off myself and to offer a stage for other people to share their stories of change, discovery, and growth.  I also wanted more time to write a new novel.  I haven’t exactly started doing that yet.  The ideas are flowing though and as a friend pointed out…maybe it’s just not time for that novel to come out yet.

When I decided to post these “Click Stories,” I went first to my Twitter friends.  I put up an open invitation and tweeted specific requests to those I knew were writers and bloggers.  I’ve received a steady stream of stories and I’ve also connected with the writers of those stories.

Tomorrow you will begin to read a story by @HeavyWhisper.  Like so many of my favorite Twitter friends, I have no idea when, how, or why we came to follow each other, but we did.  The thing that sparked our cyber-friendship is that we both share an enjoyment of adult beverages.  For a few days in a row we chatted back and forth about beer, wine, and margaritas.  @HeavyWhisper started reading my blog and replying to my post via Twitter.  When I put out the call for stories, I asked him if he was a writer.  He answered not really, but that he did have a story to tell and could probably put it together for me.

It took weeks for him to sit down and put the story in writing.  He’d direct message me every once in a while to assure me he hadn’t forgotten.  He relayed what an emotional experience it was going to be to write it.  He treated the whole process like therapy (or at least that’s the way I interpreted his messages).  Even though I had no idea what his story would be, I somehow knew it would convey what a beautiful soul he has.

The story he sent me will post in three separate entries (he went over the 1000 word limit just a bit) over the next three days.  I hope you will come back and read this story that is both a lesson in strength and love.  I am honored to give Mehmet a stage to share the life-changing road he traveled alongside his amazing wife.

Jesus

I decided for today’s Sunday quote that I’d flip open the bible (that Heather gave me for Christmas) and write down the first red letter phrases I saw.

St. John 12:44-47

Jesus cried and said, “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.  And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.  I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”