No more pretty

I’m standing in a juice bar stocking up on fresh juice for my 3-day cleanse. Not only am I wearing my baggy house clothes, but I’m bald. And I’m a woman. And I look pretty bad.

There are three other people in the tiny shop, all waiting on their juice orders. I suddenly realize that they are in the position I’ve been in so many times before: The “Oh gosh, that poor person. Look at them. They must have cancer. Or some horrible disease. No wait, don’t stare.”

I grin at them. They look awkwardly away.

I’m surprised at myself. For one thing, I’ve realized for the first time in my life that not worrying about being pretty is awesomely liberating. I realize I don’t give a rat’s ass how I look.

It’s a funny feeling having no way to hide. I could wear a wig, but I just don’t care enough. It’s hot, I’m tired, and chemo is kicking my butt.

Everything is fully exposed: forehead wrinkles, saggy neck, heck even the shape of my skull.

Here I’ve spent 30 years with my long blonde flowing hair and pretty makeup, fully invested in how I show myself to the world. Now I look 10 years older, bald, pale, and parched.

My ability to control how I look to others has largely been taken away from me. I can’t shape how people see me to the degree I used to.

The next day, I get a text from my mom about some new bald photos of me that have made it onto Facebook. She assures me I don’t look that bad in person and that I must really be getting a big test having to do with stripping away all my ego.

I whimper in response, “So you think I really look that bad?”

I hesitate. I could untag myself in Facebook. Or I could suck it up and get over myself. And that’s exactly what I decide to do. I leave the awful photos up.

By the way, this email is not about vanity, or feeling good about yourself. It’s about control and identity: Who we are and what we expect life to give us as a result of how we control how others see us. Identity is our deeper layer. Think vanity on the outside, and identity on the inside.

Vanity is fueled by lack-thinking.

Self-worth is fueled by feeling good about yourself.

And identity is fueled by many things, including your comfort with yourself at the deepest level, your ability to shift and flow with your changing identity, and by letting go of your need to control others’ perceptions of you.

I discover that I’m tired of trying to control everyone’s perceptions of me and my identity. I don’t need to look any certain way to do my work, so why did I ever think I had to?

I’ve never been a one-size-fits-all girl

A big tropical thunderstorm is rolling its way through the sky right now. The thunder was so loud, it woke the whole house at 6:30 this morning.

It feels like Hawaii here. Moist, wet, with the birds singing and big dark clouds pouring warm rain off and on onto my covered patio.

 It gets me in a thoughtful mood.

 Out of the hundreds of blog responses I’ve received in the last month, wishing me well, one has been clinging inside my head.

The sender, Karen, wrote:

 “I cannot wrap my mind around the ‘Why Summer??’ I have always known you to be a positive, happy, content woman. I thought cancer engulfed people who were worried and unhappy on the inside. This takes it to a whole different level for me.”

 Yeah, for me too, Karen. I admit to having harbored a bit of the same bias.

 People in personal growth often get caught up in the self-blame act. We look at everything and try to rationalize it.

“Cancer means lack of self-love.”

“Cancer is your wake-up call, because you were going down the wrong path.”

“Cancer means you’ve been stewing in negativity and a toxic environment.”

“Cancer means you weren’t paying enough attention to your body.”

Gosh, that sucks. Look at all I’m doing wrong!

Or wait a minute. Because, this is not at all how I’m experiencing this cancer.

I’m going to make you jealous

Of all the comments I received in response to my July 17 newsletter, my favorite one was from a woman who wrote me that “cancer saved her life.”

How this woman put my whole email into instant perspective like this is remarkable.

Because it’s true for me too: cancer saved my life.

Not that there was anything wrong with my life.

For the last five years, my life has been arcing upward into more and more happiness every day. Just about everything on my “manifesting list” (about 90%) has come true already.

I’ve actually had to write up a whole new list! And that was tough to do, since most it what I wrote was simply along the lines of “Just give me more of this, please” with a sprinkle of “going bigger” items.

Being in Flow has caused my entire life to reshape itself and turn inside out. All my priorities have shifted. All my expectations have grown.

When I learned I had cancer, I cried for three days straight and mourned what I thought would be a “loss.”

I had fear that I’d lose my breast, hair, and my once-pretty figure. That I’d lose my health, and even my life. That I’d lose a year to horrible anti-cancer treatment. That I’d lose my company, Flowdreaming, during this year. That I’d even lose my faith, since how did I manifest cancer for god sakes?

None of those things are happening.

Being ill is expanding my life.

I love myself…but you loving me? That’s more difficult.

Honestly I’ve started and stopped writing this email at least three times. Not only have I not written anything to you in several months (aside from my newsletter last week), but now that I am, it’s incredibly hard to get my thoughts focused.

It’s that “I don’t know where to begin” paralysis.

So how about this: right now, my daughter Lexi is sitting on the bed with me eating chocolate covered strawberries. I’m laying down with bloody drains coming out of my side, trying to take as little pain medication as possible. I just had a mastectomy.

Every day this week, my friends have been bringing my family meals. It’s only the fifth day after surgery and already my refrigerator is stuffed full. My bestie Jen sent the chocolate strawberries. I have bouquets of flowers surrounding my bed and heaps of cards on my table.

And part of me wants to text everyone and tell them to stop sending things and bringing food, because I’m fine goddamit, and then another part of me reminds me that I still need help just putting my clothes on, or brushing my hair.

I know this might be a surprise. People who live a “straight and narrow holy life” aren’t supposed to get things like cancer, are they?

I remember feeling the same way when Wayne Dyer, my radio cohost for many years, got leukemia. And when Debbie Ford, another friend, got cancer. And when Jerry Hicks got cancer.

It doesn’t make sense. Yet of course it does make sense, if we only had the wherewithal to know what was really going on Upstairs.

Nevertheless, I’m going to save the “why I manifested cancer” epistle for another post, because instead I need to explore something more immediate that’s popped up that I’m struggling to understand in terms of Flow, which is how to receive.

Yep, that old bad boy, coming around for yet another round.

What an irony, I think, that I’ve practiced the art of Flowdreaming and manifesting to where I create some truly dazzling things, but even so, here I am rubbing up again against that same ceiling.

You know how I found it this time?

Blessings in disguise

It was a big surprise when my doctor called in July and unceremoniously dropped the “C” word. Cancer. In me. Right now. And not a small tumor, but a nice big one that had sprouted babies in my breast.
 
Flowdreaming has become about way more than just making things happen for me, and “attracting” stuff into my life.

I’ve also been using it to create new characteristics in myself, fully reshape and reprogram my emotional conditioning, and to heal…especially to heal!

Heal grief, heal fear, anger and loss…you name it and I’ve applied the Flow approach to it. But cancer is a new one for me.
 
In a weird way, I feel like I’m finally discovering the rest of the elephant, not just the tail. Like I’ve gotten past the flashy candy wrapper of the manifesting part, and am now deep down in the Real Stuff of what Flowdreaming is and does.
 
So of course, Flow is Gettin’ Real with me.
 
That means right now I’m figuring out how to put cancer into Flow. And how to put grief into Flow. And how to put fear and loss into Flow. And frankly, how to embrace anything (even cancer) I end up being part of creating.
 
Part of this embracing means changing the emotions I feel when I encounter something scary and unwanted.

Flow reminds me I always have a choice in how I feel. I know how to pre-act. And I know how to react. And I can always choose which side of the fence I want to be on.
 
I can choose to resist my next step or embrace it.
 
So here is a Facebook post I shared with my M.E. School classes a few weeks ago, that will give you glimpse into how I’m embracing one of the scariest things in my life: