Sunday, March 25, 2012

Age of Miracles

A few weeks ago, I went for my yearly checkup at my oncologist’s (as a breast cancer survivor, my doc keeps continued tabs on me, kinda like an old boyfriend who won’t give up. I guess he is my new BF4L). But an odd thing happened while I was in his office, which is situated in a large, bustling new cancer wing of a city hospital.
            There was no one there.
            I don’t know if it was the time of day (2 pm?), or just a weird inexplicable moment where the oncology planets were out of alignment, but for whatever reason, although the lab downstairs had plenty of customers, and the parking lot was full, for the twenty minutes that I sat in the huge, spacious waiting room, I was all alone.
            I began to fantasize! What if, I thought, there were no more people with cancer? What if….the reason I am all alone here is because everyone has been cured? What if…oncology departments all over the world are having to blog and twitter and tweet to get attention because they don’t have any patients any more?
            Well, obviously, this was just a fantasy, and once I got called inside the doors to the doctor’s inner realm, I saw that there were plenty of other patients around. It must have just been some kind of odd black hole, similar to what occasionally happens when I go to Costco and there’s no line.
            I asked my doctor about it, though, and he shrugged. Maybe folks were out to lunch? A physician or two had taken the day off? In fact, he revealed, he’d recently attended a conference where the oncologists were told that this was the year they were going to put themselves out of business. Oh, if this were only true!
            In any case, I left the office with my clearance pass for another year, and a strange sense of hope in my heart.  After all, why can’t this be the year of the cure? Why can’t this be the age of miracles? Certainly, it’s the season of miracles. All around us, flowers are in bloom, trees are sprouting leaves, rabbits, kittens, and kids are being born. We’re surrounded by miracles every day, so why not in a cancer center?
            I love to read all those New Agey-books by Wayne Dyer and his ilk about how our intentions create our reality, and though I admit that sometimes my thinking gets a little “magical” I don’t really see the harm in it. I don’t see the harm in envisioning a cancer-free, toxin-free, war-free planet, and a world of peaceful hearts. So that’s what I’m going to imagine, envision, and hopefully manifest. Feel free to join me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Going Emo

© Rocky Reston |

As my kids would say, I hate to go “all emo” on you, but remember when your child was a little baby and had an ear infection? Remember…gasp… the circumcision? (If you went that controversial route.) Remember…when there was that horrible croup, or colic, or inexplicable baby constipation? The angst of it all...the pain.
            Of course, you don’t want to remember these things! (Anyway, if you have babies you’re living them now!) You know that line from the bible…"suffer the little children"? Well, I got to thinking about that the other night when I was suffering over one of the trials/learning lessons of one of my older kids. Why must we parents suffer so much every time our child suffers? Suffer the little children: not. Suffer the big adults…the parents. Yes, I know this is not what the bible is talking about. But nevertheless…
            Why do we have to suffer so much for our kids? Why do we have to be absolutely crushed when our kid doesn’t make the swim team? Or get into Princeton? Or make National Honor Society? Or needs an operation? Or has to have blood drawn? Or gets punched on the playground? Or gets dissed by a girl? Or a boy? Or flunks chemistry, or doesn’t get into the Pre-School of Our Dreams?  Or, or, or…well, the list is endless, and as parents, there is just so much suffering. Does there have to be?
            My yogi heart/brain tells me “no!” We are not our children. We are separate beings, and they are learning the lessons they need to learn. We can’t “fix” everything for them. We can’t heal every pain. We can’t dry every tear. In short, we can’t live their lives.
            I guess there you have it. Our parents didn’t live our lives for us either, and we’re still here. We survived the cuts, bruises, sprains and gashes (emotionally and physically) of living. We survived the failures, the insults, the disappointments, and we’re still here. And so will our children be no matter how convinced we are that we must suffer their pain.
            It’s hard to remember when your child is ill, or sad, or rejected, that most likely he will survive just as you did (yes, of course, there are exceptions, and I certainly can’t explain why or heal those wounds). But, we don’t have to take on every hurt as if it is our own. We need to be strong, confident, positive and uplifting. That’s what parents are for. Worry, fear, negativity, oh yes, parents are experts in these fields. Yet, from experience I know that it’s the polar opposite—hope, love, trust, and positivity-- that is the answer, no matter what.
            And so I won’t go “all emo.” This time, anyway. Oops...maybe I just did!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Back to the Future

© Stefaanh./
Last week, I did something I’ve never done before in my life: I went for a session with a psychic. Now, I could tell you all about what she revealed to me; it was quite fascinating and certainly nothing I expected, but this occasion was important to me not because of what the soothsayer said, but because I actually wasn’t afraid to hear it. I looked into the future and felt no fear.
            In the past, psychics, mediums, channelers, fortunetellers and the like scared me to pieces. Was I afraid of their dark tents that smelled of incense, or of their rather seedy looking digs along a certain New Jersey highway? Was it their chalky make-up, their crystal balls, or their tarot cards? No, what scared me most about psychics and their ilk was what they might say about my future. I simply didn’t want to know. What if there was something horrible waiting around the bend? What if they looked at my palm and saw a telltale line? What if they looked into my eyes and read my most secret thoughts? What if…what if?
            Long ago, when my children were little I wrote a scene in one of my stories about a day I could see in my future. I described how my children had grown; how they now had size ten feet, and gruff voices, how they bantered about Dante, politics, and football, how they could eat several pizzas in one sitting or knock off a gallon of milk. This vision of my future terrified me (and not only because my hair, in this vision, was decidedly graying). What terrified me was my loss of self, the loss of the woman and mother I thought I wanted to always be, the mother of three young boys who drove me nuts but were lots of fun, little boys who needed to be read stories, needed rides to cub scouts, or help with their homework. Little boys I could scoop up into my arms (not who could lift me off the floor!)
            But now that I’m living that scene I realize that there was nothing to be afraid of. My older kids are hilarious, intellectually stimulating, and quite helpful (especially when my computer is down). Yeah, my hair is starting to gray, but I’m actually healthier mentally and physically than I was a decade ago. I love little kids, but truth be known, the big kids tell better jokes, get the jokes I tell, and thankfully know how to bathe, feed themselves, and drive. The terrible future I so feared is here now, and it’s, as we used to say back in the day, “quite a trip,” and in a good way.
            I’m in no hurry to get to the future, but it doesn’t scare me any more, and that’s why I could look that psychic in the eye and say, “What do you see?” I now am of the belief that anything that’s in my personal crystal ball (and in yours) is there for a reason. The things we fear the most (like having our children grow up) may bring unforeseen blessings. The scary things our minds make up are probably never going to happen (and even if they do, they will come with some lessons we need to learn).
View the future as a miracle instead of a potentially hazardous unknown, and fear will vanish. Like the wise man said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Simplify, Simplify!

Recently, while preparing dinner for my brood I got to thinking. Back in the day, although my mom put on quite an elaborate spread for holidays and Sunday dinners, the rest of the time she didn’t fuss too much. A salad consisted of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato. Peas and other veggies either came straight from my uncle’s farm or from a frozen package. Her seafood repertoire was basically one of two things: frozen fish sticks or cod baked in milk. Either way: yuck. As for the rest, it was pretty much meat and potatoes.
            Fast forward to my own kitchen many years later where I insist upon organic vegetables, breads, and meats (for the carnivores, of which I am not one), and an absurd number of ingredients and choices. For instance, just tonight I made lemon chicken and brown rice for the “kids.” For me (and hubby who eats both entrees), cabbage sautéed with mustard seeds, cayenne, and turmeric, roasted beets and sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, and a salad that contained spinach, romaine lettuce, kalamata and green olives, tomatoes, carrots, dill, and feta along with a homemade fresh lemon/olive oil/black pepper dressing. Hello??
            Now, don’t get me wrong: I love to cook. But something is fuzzy about this picture. Why did my Mom have it easier than I do when it comes to cooking? Is it because of my self-imposed restrictions? Is it because I was so bored to tears with our white-bread diet as a child that I’ll never settle for that kind of food again? Is it because we like to complicate matters in our already complicated lives?
             A little of all of the above, I think.  As I surveyed the mountain of dishes and pots and pans that must be washed after my nightly culinary performance, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t kill me to make a salad with just say, two or three components. Or to serve one veggie main dish and not worry about the carnivores. Or to not think that every meal must be done up to the max instead of to the minimum.
            And…I can’t resist asking… what about the rest of life? Do we have to go hogwild with everything? Must we always choose the less simple route with all the bells,whistles, knobs, codes and breakable parts? Why, just the other day I had to call customer service, waste a half hour on the phone and follow the steps to return my handheld reading device to its factory settings because it had conked out.
Remember the days when we just had to turn a page? And what ever happened to bread and water?