The Phoenix

It's been quite some time since I last wrote a blog post and as I settle in to reflection now, I can hardly believe it has been 17 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I am so far from who I was then and while so much clarity has found me along the steps of this journey, it's in hindsight that I seem to be tapping in to wellspring of perspective that eluded me until now.
People have been asking how I am, those I've not seen in some time, those who followed me only through my blog posts; they've looked at me with curious and concerned eyes and wondered aloud "How are you feeling?"
I suppose for a time, I had been waiting for some way to package up the truth into some neatly wrapped, presentable, socially-acceptable box. I felt that somehow people wouldn't understand me, or perhaps they might think I'd gone off the deep end. I was seeking the confidence I craved through other's reactions, that ultimately I could only siphon from within myself.
It's only now, as I stride in to a new phase of my life that I realize it's never been about presenting people with a nicely contained, acceptable version of the truth wrapped up in to a pretty package. This knee-jerk reaction of mine, was merely an echo of old tapes that were created during a time when my power was taken from me. This was during a time when my young, malleable self was moving through the turbulent tides of adolescence and beyond.

These things we've endured in our cracked childhoods were often not done consciously to harm us, but rather perpetuated through a deep and painful unconsciousness in those around us. In my personal experience, I ended up with an inability to recognize my own authenticity, my own authority, my own sense of worthy and loveable truth and thus, I sought approval from others. I learned to comply, to be good, to avoid punishment.
The flip side is that when we suppress long enough, eventually the pressure needs to release and unfortunately my mom and step dad were at the receiving end of one of my most tumultuous times. We didn't recognize the monster then - the monster of pain and grief and suppression that came out in the form of a dark, brooding and defiant teenager deeply lost in the mire of her own shadows. But eventually we all made our peace and amends and moved on from that time and place.

As I got older and grew in to adulthood, I didn't have the luxury of teenage rebellion, so I had to quell the internal suffering in other ways. I numbed and coped with suppressing my emotions, using alcohol to ease the strain, lost myself in relationship desperate for someone to save me. Save me from myself. Save me from the shadows that only I could dispel. But hey, at least I had created a nice pretty package to present to the world in the form of "a healthy girl who practices yoga"
Only, back then I was just going through the motions.

Few things in life can stop you in your tracks faster and make you drop the bullshit more quickly than illness, or what I refer to as a wake-up call. Up until then, I was focused on making the picture pretty instead of making it real. Authentic. Honest. Malleable. Raw. Alive.

The last 17 months have taught me about listening to one of the most powerful tools we have - our intuition. This became my compass in navigating my own wake up call; I had to clear away the cobwebs and just listen. When we begin to recognize that dis-ease and imbalances are a red flag that something is off balance, we also begin to step in to conversation with Life and all the dynamic layers we are comprised of.
This does not mean it will be convenient nor fit in to your life's schedule or budget! In fact, it rarely will. Wake-up calls are not about convenience, they are meant to shake things up. Shake us up. Wake us up and steer us on to a new path - no matter how comfortable we may or may not be where we are. Most people don't go looking for a wake up call, they have a tendency to find us.

I finally embrace the fact that I am not here to present my story in a way that I believe will be more palatable to some than to others.
I am here to be authentic, to share my truth as it is no matter how quirky, awkward, strange, confusing, fluffy, new-agey people may or may not think. It is not my job to control your reaction - can you imagine how much work that would be?

I'll be honest with you dear reader, I am human and still find myself detangling webs of personal struggle I have been weaving for a long time. As a single parent trying to dig out of certain financial challenges, working full time, getting all the errands done daily/weekly, paying the rent/bills, putting consistent energy/action into greater visions that will ultimately propel me out of said challenges, all while negotiating daily/weekly medicine such as time with friends, time in nature, time in yoga - those things that my healing journey taught me to never factor out, no matter what - well, yes, it's a lot. It's a constant learning experience, a continuous yoga posture, an ongoing gamut of working with the tendencies of my mind and choosing to let them dissolve and allow who I truly am, to surface.
And so important to note here - it's not all struggle. My goodness, I have come so far.
There are tremendous blessings to which I bow each day.

I'm in that really interesting in-between space where some remarkable new people, inspiration, experiences and personal awakenings are funneling in to/bubbling out of my life and when I can let go of trying to tidy it all up in to a sensible picture, it's all beautiful as I am witnessing the creation process.
While things have not yet come into such an alignment that it has taken material form in my life, it's so easy to jump into my head and begin allowing fear to drive the bus - "Yeah sure you have met some great new people but you didn't even make your car payment this month!" or "Oh great, so you had that incredible moment of clarity the other day, but you're still living in that same tiny apartment, you can't even provide more for your daughter!"
Ahhhhh....yes....and so we hold witness. Hello fear, how ya doin? Mmmhmmm, I feel your angst my friend, but I'm sorry to say I can't ride on that train with you today. I'm happy walking barefoot in the grass.

I'm deeply content knowing that while things may not yet be just how I want them to be, while there may be certain challenges that I am soooo tired of facing, I also recognize that the moment I honored my intuition 17 months ago, I honored my Self. I chose the path that was right for me and it truly never mattered what anyone else thought. I followed my heart and my good sense, I committed to myself, to my body, to my understanding of healing and to the process.

So, people want to know how I am? Well I've healed my body of breast cancer naturally. I stopped needing it to look 'a certain way' and I have trusted my body's healing process. We are organic, malleable, dynamic beings and there is much to consider when healing the body from such imbalance. And let me tell you that has not been easy.
We are taught to have tunnel vision anytime there is a lump or bump involved. When my doctor declared with certainty the continuously shrinking lump in my breast was benign I expected it to be immediate relief. Well, in many ways it was, however it wasn't until two other powerful experiences - one with a very high fever and another with a reiki master - that I experienced myself as truly healed. I felt it down to my cells, down to my bones, down to the heart of my being. Since then I have felt more vibrant, more clear, stronger and vital than I have ever felt before. It's one step to be declared healthy and quite another to actually experience it and feel it take root in our body and in our life.
That is my truth, and I've been living it for months and I no longer feel any need to translate this in to medical terminology.

Important to note here, it has been vital to address both the physical and emotional aspects of my health. I embraced a plant-based vegan diet because it offers the lowest risk for dis-ease and felt so good that it became part of my lifestyle. I called myself out on excessive alcohol intake, which had become my coping tool for stress. I willingly went down the rabbit hole of my fear, shame, and particularly resentment (a big one for women with breast cancer). I plunged in to the deep end of darkest shadows, faced my mortality and reflected deeply on what this life truly means to me when all the bullshit is stripped away.
Some of these aspects are truly an ongoing journey, an evolution, a reclaiming that must take its rightful time. The past 17 months have truly helped me wake up, and taught me about stepping into relationship with my body, with my mind, with nature. Oh, nature. You truly had me at "Hello".
There are so many blessings. I feel good. I feel way better than good. I feel alive and more connected than ever. I have incorporated what was my 'regimen' in to what is now a lifestyle. Now is a time of reintegrating and stepping out in to the world in a way that holds meaning and purpose for me.

The last year and a half has taught me not only about the soul importance of igniting my inner power but has shown me how profoundly it had been lacking in my being. Power in this form is not a reference to dominance over someone else, but rather a way we live. Power is sacred and is rooted in what is. This ignites transformation, we rise like the phoenix from the ashes of our old stuck shadows and finally grant permission to be our authentic selves in the world and that permission finally matters.
It's never been about declaring 'the one way’; my journey happens to be the journey I was unwaveringly compelled to follow. I have not for a split second ever doubted that path. It's been about leaning IN to who I am authentically and allowing her a voice, allowing her expression. I trust the mystery and wonderment of the body and of the earth. I believe we have become so disconnected from the healing and balancing influence of the rhythms, cycles and elements of the earth. In reclaiming our own inner wilderness and taking our rightful place within the web of life which we are intricately woven - through that, healing truly does happen.

Jennifer RoseComment