Surgery is now again slated for this Thursday the 14th.
With Love and Care....
My blog site will now again become the place I post more thoughtful shares...sorry for the interruption of life and body!! If you'd like to tune into the story of my health, surgery, etc, a link is below. I'm incredibly grateful for all of you who are supporting me in this journey!
Surgery is now again slated for this Thursday the 14th.
With Love and Care....
It is 2:48 am and I can’t sleep (this reminds me of a Drew Dellinger poem)… I am awake in the night again as my body/mind tries to assimilate this journey I am on now…this new chapter that has no true beginning, nor known end.
I am in Sedona at Mago Retreat Center still…today is the last day of the conference; Reciprocal Healing: Health, Nature and Vitality. Yesterday I guided a short experiential piece on being in relationship with mystery.
I promised to write Wednesday night but my time and energy has not felt like my own here and yet, it has been a good place for me for this time immediately following my appointment with Dr. ShanaWingo in Phoenix. Shewill be my surgeon and her field is Gynecologic Oncology.
The date for surgery has shifted to Friday, one week from today…the 15th at something like 4pm. My body quivers a bit as I type this. It will be at Banner Thunderbird Hospital in Phoenix…doesn’t that sound mythic somehow?…may I be the phoenix in my own story..rising from the ashes of my own story and my old body to a new (albeit strange) Jade bird!
My angels of mercy for the journey to Phoenix on Wednesday to meet Dr. Wingo and plan for surgery, were my dearest Delisa Myles who has been an honest and prevailing friend and soul sister of the fairy/owl clan for nearly 25 years here in Arizona, and one of my newest friends in Prescott, Dani Joelle, who is an astounding beacon of fearlessness in the fields of facing the realities in birth and death with grace, and what it is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and to continue to step forward with love in spite of that….
…and because of it.
We all really liked Dr. Wingo and felt her professionalism and experience mixed with a kind, curious, delightfully light and loving bedside manner. You might imagine we were quite the trio when Dr. Wingo walked into the examining room…and her curiosity only grew as she asked each of us about who we are in our worlds…I mean…really? A nature-based guide, a midwife and death doula and a “soul” dancer and teacher and all of us involved in advancing and promoting community death care education? (and those are extremely minimal words for the likes of the three of us…but you get the picture.
Ok…try this one on for size?
Jade’s angels? The Phoenix Rising squad? The Mobile Heart Team? Me…with winged ones on both sides….OMG…this pic was on the way back from Phoenix…yes, the sunglasses were a shade for our tear stained faces.
Yes, this all began with a dream but I have to tell you, it is now more dream-like than the night dream that shook me awake to the situation. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a surreal experience…and its only just begun. Some days I have the experience of walking, leaned in, as if into a storm…a storm of so many forms of precipitation and I simply endure the experience and do my best to trust each as they move through me…the fog of disorientation, the torrential downpour of tears, the frigid dark night frosty fear and yes….the balm of a warm desert-fragranced sun filled breeze. All are here and each are necessary.
Friends, already I have noticed my relationship with life and love and beauty changing. I have long believed in the potency of facing our mortality and its extraordinary power to bring us blatantly face to face with what is important and to carve away the extraneous, leaving us shivering naked in our soulful truth…speaking with life in no uncertain terms. But ya know, mostly I have guided others in a mythic portrayal of this potent cycle of our humanity…a metaphoric set up to confront our descent and to “practice dying” in order to live for truly to our nature, and now…well, I’ll tell you, this kind of facing truth pierces far more deeply and pulls no punches. Its an ass kicker already and I highly recommend it…I think. . . . well, something like it perhaps.
Already…ALREADY, my Loves, I have been slayed repeatedly by how YOU all have shown up for me with torrents of love and support…you are vanquishing my loyal, fiesty independent one who has virulently resisted (but secretly longed for) someone to hold her…to lean on…to let her know she wasn’t alone and didn’t have to take care of the world.
This time, I appear to have no choice.
Clearly I am far more attended and loved than I could ever have imagined and this…this….
Hmm…this thing called being cared for by you is a fierce and extraordinary game changer.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have always known I was loved and appreciated…but damn…your love and attendance now brings so much clarity around my desire to live!! To have still many years before me!!
And oh, did I mention beauty?
Beauty digs deeper now…already…and I haven’t even gone under the knife yet!!
F-ck…the world is STUNNING!!
Ok..can you tell its the middle of the night? My fingers clearly are not tired.
Back to the details for the week.
Oh wait…and then there are my sisters…talk about angels!!!! I am surrounded by angels of every shape, size, endorsement, visibility and more…but MY GOD…if you don’t know this, I have three sisters who are my blood and my body…heart and soul…my constancy and surround, and I can’t even begin to imagine stepping towards this uncertain future without them.
Thank God I don’t have to…though we all live in various parts of the country, we are together…in daily, sometimes hourly contact…the tears and laughter and truth telling and care flow unceasingly and I think we are all astounded that our love for one another could continue to swell to even greater proportions. And it doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon.
A wise woman friend shared with me some words that are a sharp blade of experience in me now, 28 days into this journey. This woman, whose young son was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago, said this to an audience of people, “I don’t wish this on any of you, and I wish it for all of you. We will all experience this level of fear and heartbreak. When you do, I hope that you allow the medicine of receiving from your community to soften and work you in profound ways….” . She went on with an amazing “prayer” that can only come from a woman whose heart has been drug through a road of uncertainty and loving so big that we lose site of our selves and are dismembered decisively by life.
Love re-members us.
We grow wise on that road…if we are lucky.
All of you, are already helping me to re-member me…even before I am quite literally dis-membered.
Thank you. . . . forever
Ok, really Jade…you DO need to sleep….
This week is all about preparing myself on every level to enter the terrain of surgery and the results of the surgery. I will not share all the gory details but I will tell you that at this time it is highly likely that this will be an invasive surgery (i.e. a vertical incision into my belly) first to remove the mass ever so carefully. They must carefully get it into a bag that then carries it to be biopsied. Once biopsied, if it is not cancer, I’m simply sewn back up and have only the recovery from this removal to deal with…and any repairs that will have to be done if it is attached to other organs. She believes it might be one large mass that actually encompasses both ovaries, and it might also be attached to the colon or bowel.
If it is cancer, then the rest of the cutting begins as she may have to remove lymph nodes, and possibly repair and resect the colon or bowel. Though she did examine me, we really don’t know until she gets in there.
It is possible…IT IS POSSIBLE, that the blood tests were an anomaly and this is not cancer.
Dear Creatress, let this be true.
I will likely be in the hospital for 3-5 days with a recovery of 4-6 weeks. If there is cancer, then there are all those decisions that will have to be dealt with. Ovarian cancer is a cancer that likes to return so the doctor would probably recommend chemotherapy.
This terrifies me.
And it is, of course, my choice.
This topic seems to generate alot of strong feelings…I want to humbly request that you not share your advise or opinions about that with me, unless I ask. I will need to find my own clarity there.
And we are not there now.
It seems daily I swing between a fear bigger than I’ve every experienced and then a ….yes, a joy and almost excitement that is new. Thank you fear for ushering in this thing called love that is absolutely joyous and all encompassing.
In my years of apprenticing to death I learned long ago that there is a deep and abiding relationship…a marriage between death and big love.
Yes, even just the encountering of the truth of how freaking short our lives really are, no matter the length…opens the door to the Love
…if we are paying attention.
ok, I’m gong to close…really.
My sister Barb…my big sister, and her dear partner, David will fly in on Friday morning to meet me and Dani, who I believe will be my chariot driver to the hospital next week. I imagine they’ll all hang around … then the other sisters will come in sequence, each with their own particularly immaculate gifts of healing and big sisterliness. And the rest of you…we will see what happens. . . your offers to come are astonishing.
I could not do this without all of you…you are my backbone, quite literally and I don’t mean just physically.
I am most scared about what news I will wake to find when the surgery is over.
And thanks to dreammaker, I do trust there is a bigger, deeper, more soulful story going on here that is mine to live inside of.
I love you all…more than you can know…even those of you who might read this that I hardly know…you still matter.
We need each other.
This is the country called life.
In humbling gratitude,
Jade, Janice….Earth Echo, Orcanina….
ps. My friend Jeffrey has offered to set up a caring bridge for us to gather virtually at…I am still feeling into what way of being in contact works best and feels right.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your care.
“For Strong Women”
-by Marge Piercy
A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.
"The strength of the pack is in the wolf. The strength of the wolf is in the pack." ~ Rudyard Kipling
It was in the White Mnts of southern CA on a program I was taking with Meredith Little of School of Lost Borders. It had been a while since I'd participated in a program rather than guided one and it was clearly time for me to sit again with my dearly loved and respected Meredith, who was one of my original trainers in my nature-based work. She is a true elder and huge hearted lover of the world
We were walking each afternoon with one of the four directions or "shields" and for this program all in the west, the place of initiation, mystery and soul. I had walked with the south of the west, then the west of the west, which was a powerful ceremony that landed me at the end of the day beneath an ancient Bristlecone Pine where in front of my toes lay a very old skull of a marmot who were abundantly alive in the area. This day was to be my walk with the north of the west. If these directional signposts for my walks make little sense to you, no worries, it is less important to the story than what unfolded on that particular day.
Our group's basecamp was at a lower elevation and it was hot on these August afternoons, so a number of us chose to drive up the mountain to where the amazing Bristlecone Pines grow...astonishingly these wise old beings are some of the oldest trees on the planet and believe it or not, there are trees there that are around 4000 years old. True ancestors in the plant kingdom.
Can you imagine having been rooted there since 2000 B.C?
Of course we were drawn there again and again.
On this particular day, I rode up with a couple of other participants and as we approached the area we planned to park in, there in the road was a marmot who'd been hit by a car. I immediately asked the drive to stop and let me get out to move it. My heart rate rose and I felt distraught. I jumped out and rushed to its side. Part of its head had been crushed and I reached to pick it up. It was so soft and warm to the touch so I assumed it was hit very recently. I walked up the embankment towards a tree above where it seemed to be headed. Immediately as I approached the tree, another marmot came out of its burrow near the tree and stood to watch me. I kneeled and gently laid the body of this beautiful creature down as the other one (was this its partner or mother? or child?) watched me...steadfast in its stance. Out of my heart poured lamentations to this other, very alive, but seemingly bewildered marmot friend. I apologized again and again for my species and the way that our speed and fear and disrespect caused this. I lay the body of the marmot down about 10 feet away from this other and kneeled. I was petting the body as I apologized out loud, and sprinkled its body with sage as I did.
Tears filled my eyes as I felt the presence of the other. She had a perfect white moon shaped mark on her forehead and rather than running and hiding in fear, she stood watching me. Our eyes locked as I shared my words and she watch and then would lower her head for a moment, as if confused or sad, and then watch me again, seeming to listen. Together we share these moments of honor, grief, and care and it stunned me and my heart exploded. This other, who was likely stunned and clearly cared about this now dead marmot, received me. This was one more heart-breaking event where I was so evidently witnessing grief in another animal. Everything in my body told me this was not an act of anthropomorphism on my part, but an experience of two warm blooded mammals, sharing a sadness over the death of another. I will never forget this, as it pierced me.
My friends sat in the car in the road watching this unfold. At first they didn't understand who I was talking to, but then they saw the marmot standing by the tree.
As soon as we parked I left on my walk...so full of emotion was I that I needed to get out so I could fully express all that was exploding out my heart. I stepped over the threshold to my wander and my grief cry rang out...the gaze of the live marmot had marked me. I walked straight north towards a rocky embankment in the middle of a huge meadow. My grief turned to anger and I raged out loud at the way in which our human need for speed has done so much damage...and how uncaring we have become as we disregard the damage we've dealt to the natural world.
I climbed to the top of this rise to a knoll that was covered with marmot droppings. My memory carried me to something I had read that Terry Tempest Williams had written as she took part in a study of Prairie Dogs. Studies showed that Prairie dogs came out of their burrows for each sunrise and sunset and pressed these tiny paws together in front of their hearts, as if in prayer, and watched as the sun rose or set. I wondered if this rocky knoll was perhaps a place that marmots might do the same thing. It had a perfect view to the east and west.
My walk unfolded further in reverence and praise for the creatures and their families living in this high elevation ecosystem with a view of the Sierra Nevada Range. The skull I had found became the center point for a mandala laid out of juniper berried, leaves, seed heads and more, as a tribute to all those hearts that matter, but often are disregarded by us.
For 20 years now, almost to the date, I have been in an apprenticeship to death and this walk in the north of the west, I was reminded keenly that my work is not done in the realm of the dying, after death care, and the grief so tied to these events in each of our lives.
I am a part of a group here in Prescott now who are working to be a resource to the community for these times: "Arizona Community Death Care Resouce". We hope to have a website up by the end of September.
This quote came direct from the heart of an extraordinary young woman I once guided. She always said that "every heart matters," and lived her life accordingly. Thank you Shae!
Where has my writing gone I ask myself?
It is sunk deeply in my chest...waiting for rain....to imbibe...to germinate.
I do have a story to tell from my recent forays into Dark Nature, but first, I wanted to share some remarkable wisdom...and challenges, from the popular Brene' Brown. I recently saw a link to her podcast with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday and listened in...I felt it was important enough to pass it on. Sending all of you love and the challenge to trust and be trustable.
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Friends...just as I was about to notify you of today's post, I found I'd inadvertently deleted my document with all the subscriptions on it. Yikes!! Please if you'd like to keep being notified of my blog posts, just send me a note either here in comments or by way of email. Thanks so much for being one of my beloved readers!!
Hope we can continue together!!
“To speak of sorrow works upon it. . .
Moves it from its crouched place…” ~Denise Levertov
OK, I’m exposing myself here in more ways than one. After not writing for months, now I’m pulled to write consecutive blogs close together…what’s up with
that?? Will you take the time to read them?
What I feel to be true is that this outflow is, in part, an example of the nature of allowing one’s self to be in the deeps…the abyss…the gallows of dismemberment which I seem to have been in for months now. If we surrender to such a descent and give ourselves over to its rugged ways, one day moments of insight may begin to bubble up from the muck and mire at the bottom of the abyss. It is a sign that there is life down there…biological activity under all that goo creates bubbles of inspiration and they often contain something of wisdom.
I so appreciated those of you who wrote to me in response to my last blog called “Facing Extinction”. The conversation itself is fascinating as I learn how different ones of us are wrestling with their experience of the times we are in, but it is also serving to provoke in me a more tenacious pull into the inquiry. How do we face this time and remain heartful, kind and a viable asset to the world?? Certainly this is not the first time that humans have struggled mightily in response to a certainty that their world would soon “end”. One could argue the facts of what is true around the sense that so many of us have that we are in a dire situation on so many fronts but perhaps what is more important is the fact that so many of us sense something and many are being effected in dramatic ways by this.
Something is going on here.
First I want to suggest that we admit that there is a swell of people falling into depression, despair, anxiety, PTSD affects, sadness, reactionary anger, victimhood, etc. Just noting this has me want to point to the good news that our intuitions and instincts are working AND perhaps there is even a teaching here about our connectedness!! Isn’t it clear that we are all tuning into something…whether we follow the news or not, we sense something in the field. THIS is important. This is a sense we carry that is utterly valuable and perhaps a lifeline. Is Grandmother Spider is at work, casting her numinous web with stronger fibers in order to link us together in this time?
Secondly I’d like to offer a hypothesis of the heart here. While I, for one, am in constant prayer and questioning about what my part of the solution is and am ever faithful to the longing to be a change maker in the world, I want to note that for some people this happens more on the inside. Some do not have gifts for being on the front line of action in the physical realm, but DO have gifts alive and active and influential in the inner worlds. All are important! But let me propose here that there is some inner work that I believe is essential and absolutely being called for as a part of the healing necessary right now. I believe it is safe to say that every single one of us is feeling some kind of response to the world right now, with the climate in chaos, many species going extinct every day, the political bullying, and the diaspora of so many peoples from their homelands and so much more. Each of us responds differently from different rooms of our emotions, or at least expends energy to suppress the natural emotional response that wants to arise.
My friends, these emotions are rising to the surface for a reason!! Like the bubbles from the deep, they need to be aired and witnessed. By this I do not mean that we all need to become a bubbling, boiling mass of overheated expression, though that may be true for some and if you can do that without harm to others, fantastic!
Moreover what I am suggesting here is this. Who hasn’t, when quieting yourself to feel an emotion inside, felt the child self inside connected to the emotion? Our emotions were birthed when we were infants and fetuses, and it is safe to say that nearly every one of us was not tended with as much spaciousness, tenderness, and care as would have been ideal when we had the so many feelings that we had as children. Most of us had feelings at times that were met with hushing, ridicule, impatience, temper, ignoring, abuse, criticism, threat or shunning or all of the above.
How many of us have taken on any of those practices in our response to our own feelings as adults?
Can you feel the pain of this? The pain of the child within?
Whatever the causes…and there are many, our emotions are rising, even if by way of a falling into suppression and depression. Many of us are avoiding them when they threaten to overcome us…to be too big, too debilitating. So many are turning to medications to avoid them or escapism by way of a multitude of addictions.
What if the call at this time is to take the time and the tenderness of heart to be with the heart of the matter inside of YOU? What if what is being asked of each of us is to be a loving parent to the little one inside that is likely terrified by the state of the world? Or who is in despair for the inevitable loss of places and creatures in nature that were our friends and safe haven as children? Or who is traumatized by the threats of the world that are somehow triggers for how we were treated as children?
We MUST tend the children inside.
Yes, even if you are a parent to children that you care for daily, we must take the time to tend, love, calm and listen to the ones who are terrified inside.
Imagine if we all did this for ourselves? How then would we be with each other on the political stage, on the street, in our relationships, in our schools and simply at the market?
The work starts within. Period.
What we see around us exists within.
Inside we have ecosystems falling out of balance, we have shunned immigrating feelings, we have separated our inner children from their inner parents, the rivers of our grief are damned and polluted, we have bullies threatening the innocent ones, we have good ideas stomped upon, and extinction is upon us…aspects of ourselves that will never live again. Can we turn within to this vital world and tend it with the care of a Mother? Can we open our arms and hearts to hold the hurting ones? be present to hear all the feelings with love? make the small things important and every feeling matter?
What if…WHAT if this is where all the healing begins?
Within our Earthen Bodies and Hearts?
”On the last day of the world, I would want to plant a tree.” ~W.S. Merwin
The owl’s breath moves in my lungs…her strange voice cloaks my throat. A feather lands before me on my path. I feel her near even in daylight.
Things are changing…I sense it everywhere. Do you feel it? What is your way through this time?
Lately I feel myself as a kind of Cassandra; a pariah in a world trying to avoid itself. I can barely speak in any other conversation with this one of our inflamed and dying world beating so strongly in my chest. My resistance invites my suffering. I am reminded of the spiritual teaching that it is in the efforting to be somewhere other than where we are, that we most suffer. Trying to get away from suffering is the biggest cause of suffering.
I have been trying to get away from my own inclination towards depth and darkness that has me dwell here more than is healthy perhaps. There is dirt under my fingernails from trying to claw my way out of this underworld. I ache. I don’t recognize myself. “Things look at me doubly and I must look back and let them happen”, as poet Adrienne Rich points to.
Dissonance rings in me…I cannot find my old tools, or they have rusted and dropped out of sight and into disrepair.
My own heart beat startles me in its magnitude. I catch my breath thinking it is someone walking towards me in the darkness. My eyes are entrained on the loss. In the entrainment, more loss arrives on the threshold. Each time my mind thinks it understands and knows what I should move towards and how I can be of service, the ax comes down and severance is the only note in the evensong.
Today I finally sat down and read all 33 pages of Catherine Ingram’s paper entitled, "Facing Extinction." I didn’t want to, but I did. Interspersed in the continued shock of more and more evidence of just how bad our situation is, came also a kind of easing of my mind for the simple calm of having company in this unending excruciating conundrum we find ourselves caught in. If you dare, you can join me in reading it here.
Rilke, the poet of dark depth reminds me, “Now you must go out into your heart as onto a vast plain. Now the immense loneliness begins.” Oddly, this too soothes me. To know others have tread on similarly shrouded paths offers something. It is not hope, but it is company....perhaps solace.
We need each other now. This is not a time to isolate, though so much of me is prone to that. Please know your voice is welcome here next to mine, as is your heart. Perhaps we cannot stop the insanity, but we can be together in the witnessing and grief. We can learn to breathe and calm ourselves and others, and we can remember the practice of noticing that we can choose where to put our attention and gather, like a fist full of wildflowers, the moments of sweetness that are still so vibrantly here.
Today I am trying to remember this.
The coyote that I found dead on the trail this winter still lays a bit off trail where I placed her three months back…barely altered by predator and time. I marvel at the slow process of dismemberment happening to her. Nothing seems to be happening for weeks, even months and then, ever so slowly, a fluffing and sloughing off of the downy under fur…that which was closest to its body offering insulation and warmth from the cold. Its form is undone as the fur explodes as a halo around it. Her sharp ear still makes an arrow against the sky and the feather I left has slipped into the downy cloud of her obscuration.
In my dream, the ground is literally dissolving beneath my feet. I know that I will not make it through this flood of mud that is becoming a waterfall before me. I turn and reach out for help.
“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.” ~Terry Tempest Williams
“There comes a time when the bubble of ego is popped and you can’t get the ground back for an extended period of time. Those times, when you absolutely cannot get it back together, are the most rich and powerful times in our lives.”
1. Becoming Seed
2. Blooming Forth