A Message from Deep within the Forest “Life’s a Journey, Not a Destination” I don’t mean to use clichés. And this title isn’t one. I’m quoting a line from a song by Aerosmith much to my own amusement which I’ll share later. Did I leave you hanging a little in the post about my latest treatment update? I meant to so that you could understand my perspective. That’s how my last few weeks have felt to me – hanging uninvolved from a branch in the tree of life! How I reacted At the announcement of the impending beginning of the final cycle of chemo, I’m hopeful but not excited. I’ve learned my lesson through enough moving goalposts. This type of learning was head-to-a-brick-wall repetitive monkey learning. Not very inspired and so disappointing every time I went through the high of expectancy and the disappointment of the actual result. Learning for dummies How many times do we say, “What? I did that again? Oh…right” before we get it (whatever “it” is for you)? I’ve done it often. Learning and changing habits – whether it’s not to walk so close to desk corners or not to say hurtful things to others – this way takes time and is often learned through unconscious trial and error pain, whatever the level. Conscious learning So, recently, I’ve been going into the forest. I’m not a psychologist by any means but this is a great analogy that a psychologist gave me. I like it. When we come across an uncomfortable situation, for example, that one person with the knack for rubbing us up the wrong way, 2 clear choices we have are either to frown, walk away and try to avoid them in future or, to sit with that uncomfortable feeling and figure out what it’s about and where it stems from to fix it. The latter is referred to as going into the forest because it’s unknown. Even fairy tales warn us to stay out of the forest because it’s “dangerous” (translated correctly as, scary). We don’t know what we’ll encounter. Yes, it’s sometimes scary but if you do venture in and take the time to know what part of yourself is trying to get your attention, by the time you come out the other side, you’ll firstly, know yourself better and may even have healed a part of yourself and secondly, that person won’t affect you so much. Hero to the Forest I took the dare and went in to discover what the deal is with wanting so desperately, and failing so far, to get through this phase of my life. I simply haven’t been able to accept that it might well be permanent and have spent much time and energy seeking ways out of and around it. For the record, I still don’t believe there’s anything wrong in asking questions and challenging generally accepted norms. The short of it is I’ve always known my stamina is not great. I often hurry through tasks I don’t enjoy and I hate (I don’t use the word lightly) do-overs. I avoid them in every area of my life like I do brussel (I don’t know if this should have a capital letter but I don’t feel it deserves one) sprouts! Naturally, this is something I want to get done with yesterday already. So I sat with it and I reckon this is a lesson working in a big way to get my attention to learn ENDURANCE. What for, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter either. I might need it in future so best I learn it. I sat with the notion in different moods on different days and it resonated every time so for now, it’s what I’m working on consciously. How it relates to chemo I’m still pissed off about the drugs causing more havoc in my life than the cancer. That’s due to the length of this “temporary” state. Stamina and endurance. See? How cool to have this opportunity to learn! And I could’ve missed it! So what does it mean to my decision to quit treatment? I’m still determined to reject the recommended lifelong poisoning. What would that tell my body? That I don’t believe it knows what it’s doing. That I don’t trust it to do what it does best. It’ll only keep fighting so the best I can do is support this awesome machine and fix the parts that I can control in order to help myself – the emotional and mental parts. The Aerosmith amusement… Earlier this week, driving with a colleague listening to a guitar music CD, he (an avid Jay-Z follower [insert judgemental eye roll here]) turned to me and said, “this is a stereotyped white person’s music”, to which I burst out laughing).