THE BLOG

A Storm Of Blessings: Receiving Life's Unexpected Gifts

06/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass,
it's about learning to dance in the rain."

- Vivian Green

Last week, in my article about Elizabeth's Edwards new book, Resilience, I shared with you the beginnings of my own journey with the diagnosis many readers felt more comfortable referring to as "The Big C".

Let me say here first, if we're going to use a euphemism, instead of calling it "The Big C", I prefer to give it a feminine name, you know, like the way we often name hurricanes after women. I'd like to call my breast cancer, "Bella Coventina", named after the Celtic goddess of purification. Get it? BC, Breast Cancer, Bella Coventina.... OK!

Coventina is the goddess of the waters, including oceans, lakes, ponds, streams and rivers. Wishing wells were made in her honor and today, when you throw a coin into a fountain or body of water, it's Coventina who grants your wish. Since our bodies are mostly make up of water, she's very involved with helping us purify our physical selves. She reminds us that purification also means keeping our thoughts and speech filled with positive words that empower and strengthen body, mind and spirit.

Sounds about right, don't you think? Bella means "beautiful", so I'm embracing this storm of beautiful blessings and calling upon Bella Coventina to be an agent for purification and so as to release all that no longer serves my highest good.

Let me go no further however, without offering my deepest thanks from the bottom, middle and top of my heart, inside and out, for another storm of blessings: your love, prayers and empowering messages of encouragement. I am deeply humbled to receive such an outpouring of kindness and compassion. Your messages here and personal emails have touched me more than you'll ever know. Know that I am, and will continue to be, sustained by your love as I go forward.

Last week, a friend sent me a link to a site promoting the book, Learn To Dance In The Rain by Mac Anderson and B.J. Gallagher. The book is based on the Vivian Green quote at the top of this post and while I haven't read it yet, I was so taken by the title and the images it evoked in me, I sat down to do an inquiry about its implications.

The Power of Language

Look at the power we've given to the word c-a-n-c-e-r! We speak in terms of "waging war on it," and people "battle" it, as surely this diagnosis can be deadly. So we arm ourselves to "fight" back, because the way our American health care system is set up, we'd better be fortified.

Naming my condition Bella Coventina is my way of "taming the beast" and re-frames my relationship with what's going on in my body. Today on my morning's walk in the hills above my home, Bella and I had a nice chat. She means no harm, she says, she's just here to let me know I've some work to do and it can be done without any more drama or trauma, as long as I pay attention. I'm listening and trusting what my body is telling me.

The Smorgasboard of Options

Meanwhile, processing through the healthcare system has felt somewhat like walking through a buffet line, looking at all the dishes on display. None of them whet my appetite. "Madam, would you prefer the scalpel with 30 doses of radiation on the side, accompanied by 5 years of poison, or would you prefer to leave your breasts at the door?" I want to respond, "No thanks, I'll skip them all".

Is it Courage? Or is it Wisdom?

I still have more research and discovery to do, so my own path is not yet completely clear, but it's starting to emerge. People speak about the courage it takes to face up, accept what is and go forward. It might sound odd for me to say, but it doesn't seem courageous at all from my perspective. It just seems like the wise thing to do.

I could hunker down in fear and wait for the storm to pass, or I can learn to dance in the rain. This is true not only for what I'm facing, but for each of us, every moment in our lives. We're all faced with moments when life is not occurring on the terms we'd prefer.

Especially now, with all the turmoil in the world, the economic challenges of losing a job, losing a home, losing one's health, a child having difficulty in school, gays being denied the right to marry whomever they choose; every single moment, life is asking us to dig deeper and call forth something new in ourselves in order to meet it.

Showing Up for the Game

To learn to "dance in the rain" is to meet life head on, with no conditions for whether or not we'll show up for it. We show up, because that's what we came here to do. We show up because it's our honor to do so. We show up because it's a privilege to walk this earth as a pilgrim, and make the path a little lighter for those who follow. We show up because being true to our spirit and true to our soul's journey is far more important and a higher calling than giving in to the ego's fear and invitation to shrivel.

No, we show up here, you and I. Because to do any less is an offense to the truth of who we are. The conditions do not matter. The circumstances do not matter. We still show up each and every day, because it's who we say we are. We bring whatever life has gifted us, and yes, I'm stating this diagnosis is a gift, and we use it to create our lives.

Breast cancer is giving me the opportunity to discover more about what I'm made of. And yet, it does not define me. I am more than this diagnosis and you are more than the circumstances of your own life. We have them. They do not have us. Life goes on, not in spite of, but with the challenges we're given. We'll use those challenges to inspire and motivate ourselves and others.

Challenges Bring Gifts

Difficult times also bring resources for getting through them. I want to thank the readers who left links to so many wonderful and resourceful sites. I'd like to highlight one in particular: Britta Aragon, a friend and cancer survivor, writes a wonderful blog called The Beauty of Breast Cancer. This is a very helpful sight with inspiring stories and suggestions for forms of self care and alternative treatments and lifestyle changes. I also just picked up Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book and look forward to reading it.

Here's a very informative video I found on Britta's sight. It's from Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, a brain cancer survivor, who's written a new book, Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. Since everyone lives with cancer cells in their body, this book and video are not just for those with active cancer, but outline important lifestyle choices that help to defend against it. Please take the time to watch:

I'm learning to dance in the rain. And you're welcome to join me! This chapter has already opened me to new possibilities, and that's what I'll be focusing on from here out. I may have cancer, but that's not the sum total of who I am or what my life is about. I'll be sharing here and on my own new blog, Rx for the Soul in the days and weeks to come. I'm not live yet on the new site, but will be very soon, so stay tuned!

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