The green journal

It’s rush hour here in Ottawa. Early rush hour, but now with flexible work schedules it seems from 3 pm onwards everyone is hitting the road. I’m on the porch of my downtown apartment, which has steps leading down to the sidewalk. I guess you might call it a walk-up. A very busy road it to my right and it’s clogged up with cars. I can’t hear them too much, however, because my right ear is not hearing very well lately. It may be a side effect of the radiation. It may be that my ear is full of wax. Probably it is both. My father took a look in there and said it was very waxy. He then tried putting in drops while I told him not to poke my ear drum, and gave him an all-around hard time.

 

Radiation or not, I probably need to get these ears cleaned. That and stop watching Youtube videos about people getting their ears cleaned, because it’s gross. (but cool too, because I find that weird stuff fascinating)

 

This is one of those days when I cannot stand being told to rest. Zsolt is head-deep in his new job, so cannot play with me. I’m locked out of my work email so cannot take a peek at the accumulating correspondence that need to be sorted. And project wise I’m a bit dried up at the moment.

Lost in a land of chemo and recovery and destructive anticipation.

I’ve come across videos and blog posts that made a very important point around chronic illness: stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something. Do something for your life because you are here to live it. Don’t hide behind pity (self or otherwise). Create pathways in the mind that don’t focus on the fear or pain, but rather reinforce the constructive, the creative, and the happy.  And to do all this, you must do something. Because you start feeling very sorry for myself when all you do is lay on the couch.

Some days it’s okay to lay on the couch. Sometimes I MUST lay on the couch. But when I can get up and move and not feel zombified, it’s really wrong to just stay there letting the sadness sink deeper.

 

Thing is – I don’t know what to do! So I have come out onto the porch to write a blog post.

There is a green journal in my place, tucked in amongst my other writing (stories, drafts, thesis, etc). This journal was written upon meeting Zsolt. It’s about my going to Hungary, him coming to Canada and our moving to England. It’s full of wondering about the future and love and commitment. It’s really a trip to re-read these many years later. I can see how circumstances have changed, but even more important, how much I’ve changed too.

 

I was happy but lost at 23. And actually felt like a failure – I had expected great things, and clear directions from myself. I thought I would know where life was headed. But after four years of psychology, and having dropped out of Photography to go to Hungary, I was literally floundering and without purpose.

There’s this list where I write out what I’m good at: taking instructions, helping being, listening,

AND

There’s this list where I wrote out what I’m okay at: drawing, photography, psychology, speaking

Isn’t it funny I never wrote ‘writing’ on those lists? Or storytelling? (Or project creation/management, or networking or designing or community building . . . but of course I couldn’t back then, because I’d never tried to do those things)There I was in Hungary – feeling like I didn’t fit in, couldn’t understand anyone and had no purpose – filling up my green journal with observations of life. Writing in the park about the church across the yard, and the school children, and how the tourists were watching me as much as I was watching them. It was such a natural way for me to be – the writing – and a talent too, right in front of my eyes on the page, and I didn’t even see it. Instead I felt disappointed for my lack of purpose, and my lack of money making potential.

 

It makes me wonder what I cannot see in front of me right now. What am I missing? What important element is there to notice and embrace? And is it only time and life that will reveal things, or is there a way to force it to my attention now?

(Can I pop this pimple of potential? Yeah, I’m fascinated with popping pimples too, as well as looking into ears)

This is SUCH a self-absorbed blog post. Very self-ruminating. Bumpyboobs has become my green journal.

In a way, I feel lost as I did those 10 years ago. Cancer has changed everything once again. All the projects have stopped. Even my job had to be put on hold. Heck, I’ve even published my novel. So what now? What is my purpose now? Can I get back there, do I need to reposition – and how?!

Are there new pathways I can carve into my mind that will take me away from the cancer pity? Do I need to make it a productive part of my life? And if so, how? I’m not going to become an advocate, so what is this illness forcing me to experience? How I supposed to learn from this – what can I create with this? What can I do despite this? Who am I now?

 

I am back there, like ten years ago, floating and uncertain. But I’m much, much further too. Far more confident in myself – and I know no matter what, I am not a failure and there is no loss. Just life. Just living. Just a lot of learning and experiments.

 

We’ll see what happens next.

Just a little nothing

My honey has a new job! YES – congratulations, Zsolt! You do good work, and this is a good thing! The job is kind of an extension of his previous work – only now he gets to work with a great team and learn even more. I’m super proud of him:)

And with this new job, he received an iPad, which is fancy. And with that iPad, we found a doodle app.

And with that doodle app, I was doodling:)

This, along with a nice few days spent in Montreal, was a lovely distraction for tomorrow head MRI.

cottage_CatherineBrunelle

Skinny Dipping vs Depression

I went skinny dipping. It’s great. It’s like when I first discovered not wearing a bra was far more comfortable than wearing a bra – and hence ditched my bras almost all together. (Resulting in my true form ‘flat as a pancake’ being rocked daily. The mastectomy certainly helps with this look.)

My parents have a pool, and for a long time I’ve though how lovely it would be to skip the uncomfortable bathing suit and just jump in – but never went for it. Well, as I was in one of those ‘f-k it’ moods lately, and since no one was home at my parents except Zsolt and I, and because the weather has been so crazy warm . . . I just went for a swim a la nude. It was beautiful.

You know that cold dread of getting out of the pool, as you towel off while the suit you are wearing clings and chills your skin? That sticky resistance as you try to pull it off, after having stepping into the air conditioned house where the cold air hits hard against the cloth of your damp suit? Well there’s none of that when you’re butt naked in the backyard, drying off with your towel.

And when you swim through the water, there’s really no resistance. It’s just slip and dip.

So from now on, whenever possible, I’m gonna swim a la natural. It’s just better this way.

This too, is one off my reminders that life isn’t all cancer. It’s hard, because my mind and body seem to be trying to convince me otherwise. I wake up in the morning thinking about scans and appointments and whether anything will every work. I think about slipping through the cracks of a system. I think about mortality and final days and fighting and sleeping. I think about my eyes and their warped sight  . . . and such. I wake up every morning and some nights stuck with these thoughts, and they sink deep into me, making everything heavy. And I have to pull myself out somehow – it’s not always so easy – pull myself out to be here in the moment, here today, living now.

Things like skinny dipping help with that. So does going to the river in Packenham (where Z and I were married seven years ago in the church there) this past weekend, and putting our feet into the flowing water – watching as schools of tiny fish swim up to investigate our toes. (eep!) That helps pull me out too.

Last night we watched our wedding video. The ceremony was lovely, and vows reminded me that not everything has gone wrong. Yes, life is threatened, yes we are frustrated, and yes, I deeply regret not having had children – but in listening to the vows, I remember  we made promises that have been kept and held as precious. We have and hold though good and bad, through sickness and health, through rick and poor – we have been an amazing married couple. And though I sometimes feel as though I’m failing, particularly as the cancer spreads, I must remember that we are in fact blessed.

Every day when we get to find our ‘in the moment’ joys, we really truly succeed. But also, when we hold each other and cry, and when the doctor gives bad news, we still shine through. He’s my husband and my life is a slice of satisfaction thanks to our relationship.

Anyhow, there’s a wandering post where I am sorting out my emotions. Depression vs skinny dipping, love vs expectation, good times and deep pits of sad.

Today we are outside in the backyard, and the pool is waiting. There are no scans this week, or tests, or results. And I will try my best to be Catherine the normal, with her husband Zsolt the loving – and later this day, will jump in that pool buck naked once again.