musings of an aquarian age counterculturist



Mom 1968
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer as a young woman in her early 30’s.  I vividly recall her having the surgery which involved a lumpectomy and removal of the affected lymph nodes.  This was a highly progressive procedure in the day and age where standard operating procedure was complete mastectomy, no questions asked.

I remember my father taking my sister and I to visit her in the hospital afterward.  I remember the subsequent chemotherapy sessions.  I remember hearing that a classmate of my sister’s shared in “show and tell”, that our mom was dying of cancer.  When my father went to work to support us, I remember my mother driving herself back and forth to chemo sessions with kids in tow until the day came that she simply could not physically do it on her own anymore.  I remember witnessing her suffering through terrible nausea and vomiting nearing the end of that course of treatment.   Despite all of that, I remember our mother fighting to get well.  I also remember being completely confused by it all.  I was in Grade 5.

Fast forward 20-odd years from my mother’s initial breast cancer diagnosis and a lengthy period of clear clinical follow-ups.  After a time of feeling vaguely unwell and chronically exhausted, she was sent for a colonoscopy which resulted in a blood transfusion and diagnosis of colon cancer.

The news came as a complete shock.  I had just moved to Toronto a couple of months before.  I asked her if I should consider moving back to Manitoba.  She said, “Absolutely not.  It wouldn’t help anything and would only make me worry more.”

The months of treatment and recovery that followed were very difficult for her.  She endured it all quietly and stoically.  It is a testament to her strength and will to overcome that she lives to share her story.

At one point in her healing journey, my mother discovered her tribe: a group of cancer survivors participating in a dragon boat team to support each other and raise awareness. Since joining the team called “Waves of Hope”, my mother has attended many festivals and events that help to educate others about prevention and early detection.

This is an aerial overview of the recent Dragon Boat Festival in Sarasota, Florida.

At the end, you will see a cluster of boats joined together.  Every person seated in the boats are cancer survivors.  And every single rose you see dropped into the water represents someone.  Someone who didn’t make it.

My mother was there, in Boat #5.

Blessed be the survivors in their unity above and beyond adversity.  May hope and healing continue to expand in their wake.


Excuse Me While I Make Myself a Little More Uncomfortable.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.
–Mark Twain

As I’ve written about here before, there have been a lot of big changes going on in my life over the last year.  So many in fact that my head spins when I stop to consider it all.

My circumstances could certainly be classified as one of those situations where some pretty miserable experiences turned out to be in my best interest.  Not that there is any way in hell I could have been able to recognize the larger picture while it was all happening .  Fighting to stay afloat in a slew of emotional pain doesn’t exactly allow for broader philosophical-based thinking.

In the midst of a relentless shitstorm, it seemed that all I could really do is put my head down and ride it out until it passed.  And in time, it did pass.  Slowly and steadily some semblance of calmness and insight crept in, and with a lot of love and support from people who genuinely cared, I was eventually able to breathe again without the sensation of a crushing weight on my heart.

Arising from a place of immobility, I finally surrendered to the changes that were occurring spontaneously all around me from that point on.  Looking at my life now, I can’t believe everything that has happened from that moment to this.  There are times I don’t recognize myself anymore.  I’ve decided to accept this as a good sign.

Yes, what a difference a year makes.  Whispers of struggle remain, but I am in such a different place than I was a year ago.  A far more peaceful, sweeter, loving place.  But by no means am I feeling comfortable.   This is not a bad thing.

For the first time in a long while I’m feeling optimistic in the present moment and excited about the future.  Amongst many other things going on, I am leaving behind a 20+ year career that was a self-made prison, otherwise known as my “Comfort Zone”.   While I’m grateful for the experience I gained and the skills I now carry with me, I realize that world no longer fits who I am or where I’m going.  And so a new adventure begins.  I am in the early stages of carving out a freelancing business and narrowing down the services I am planning to offer.  All I know for certain is that I am being called to do my own thing, in whatever way it manifests.

As exciting as it is, there is a lot of fear rising up inside about my ability to make this happen.  Despite that, I am not allowing fear to prevent me from moving forward.  I have so much to learn but I’m ready to take a leap into the unknown.  It is time to follow the dream unfolding before me by creating space to follow my intuition and allow new ideas to inspire me.  In the end, I’m determined that if it doesn’t work out, it won’t be because I didn’t give it my best shot.

So excuse me while I make myself a little more uncomfortable.  Right now, it is the best feeling in the world.