Monthly Archives: July 2016

Thriver Soup Thursday: Go Ahead–Walk on Water

So Peter went down from the boat and walked on the water, to come to Jesus.
Matthew 14:29, Christian Bible

peter jesus walking water copyOne night Jesus strides on the surface of a lake toward the boat containing his disciples. One of the passengers, Peter, also wants to walk on the water. For a short time Peter has the faith to move across the choppy surface. He steps completely outside his comfort zone, completely outside his way of perceiving the world, and does something extraordinary. He is truly alive for that brief moment.
I want to fully live my life, which is a longing that springs from years of deadly uterine cancer treatments and threats of hospice. This attitude has helped me face down many things I previously had feared, and to try new experiences my former self would have done anything to avoid.
Prior to 2009, I would never have considered driving in downtown Manhattan, New York. Especially during rush hour.
Well, in June I chose to drive through Manhattan to get to Long Island. After getting lost and rerouted, guess what time I pulled onto the Big Apple? 4 p.m. Just in time for rushing waves of traffic.
Ahead of me there was not a single accident on my route to the Queens–Midtown Tunnel. There were two.
My sister suggested I take a Zen approach and simply allow. So I did, settling into the fact it could take hours to traverse a handful of city blocks. Yet I also decided I was going to be something new, something different, something I had never tried before. I chose to be a bad-as_ behind the wheel.
My brother-in-law had demonstrated how to drive in Manhattan when he helped me get around for my visit to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center during 2009. Be pushy. Honk plenty. Don’t give any room. So I picked up his procedures.
I’d already blared my horn for several minutes to get my sister’s attention so she could find me sitting in a traffic lane. I didn’t budge out of anyone’s line of driving until she was safely buckled in next to me.
At one intersection I crossed only partway and sat in a traffic lane, blocking the perpendicular flow. A man in a big black SUV in an oncoming turning lane honked at me, trying to inch his way in front of my little gold Prius. I crept forward. He yelled at me through his open window and tried again to edge me out. As I was able, I moved forward a little more. This scene continued for several heated minutes.
Finally he gave up. He called me an as_-hole (worse than bad-as_), pulled back and passed behind me. “Oh, Ohio! No wonder!”
I chuckled. I had been enough of a bad-as_ to rouse swearing in another driver. I had stood up to a big bad truck with a driver who might well have rammed my little car. I had played with a Big Apple Boy and hadn’t let him cow me.
Like Peter, I followed someone’s example of living life more fully, and moved completely out of my comfort zone. I faced my fear. And I didn’t sink.
Buoyed by my little personal triumph, I trickled my car forward, eventually got through the tunnel, and made my way to our accommodations.
I had lived fully in those moments. I have no desire to repeat them, yet I have added fresh, new experiences to this adventure called life.
Thriver Soup Ingredient:
Is there something you’re afraid of trying, yet know you would be glad you did? Don’t focus on the fear. Focus on the end result—the feeling of satisfaction of having faced the fear and triumphed. I see this as a way of walking on water ourselves.
Sources:
Lamsa, George M. Holy Bible: From the Ancient Eastern Text: George M. Lamsa’s Translation From the Aramaic of the Peshitta. Harper & Row, May 8, 1985.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMielno_witraz_Piotr_chodzi_po_jeziorze.JPG

Thriver Soup Thursday–What Gives Light Must Burn

What is to give light must endure burning.

Viktor Frankl (1905 to 1997)

Viktor Frankl endured Nazi concentration camp life for three years, losing his wife in the ovens. This experience helped him eventually develop Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, using the heat of his suffering to bring more light into the world.

Extreme temperatures, sometimes ranging around 3,000° F, are needed to burn silica sand and metals to create the beauty of stained glass, which is used to provide light in many houses of worship.

st paul tree window webMy son Tristan tried to burn things to get light into his dis-eased mind. Cigarettes. Marijuana. Heroin. It didn’t work beyond a temporary false fix. It only darkened his thoughts further and led to his demise a year ago.

Could I find a stained-glass window that represented him to bring light into the darkness of my pain? I went on a hunt this past June. By a quirk of fate, I walked into St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh.

And found it. A small window sitting above a rack of large white candles.

The primary image is of a tall tree in the center, representing me on my cancer journey. When I was diagnosed, Maria Paglialungo drew a tree of life on my hospital whiteboard and urged me to tap my roots into Mother Earth for sustenance. The scraggly black-and-white image from the beginning has been transformed into a straight, lush tree, full of vibrant color.

A brilliant white star streams light onto the tree. To honor the one-year anniversary of Tristan’s passing, my friend Judy Peace gave me an astrology reading which layered Tristan’s life with mine. The primary gift she saw Tristan giving me in this life is illumination for my life’s path. And this star in the window is like Tristan, now in the heavens, shining his light on my life.

On each side of the tree is a fleur-de-lys, symbol for the Christian godhead held together by Mother Mary; symbol for the Boy Scouts, of which Tristan was a member; and the same symbol that was embossed on the mysterious gift I received this past Christmas.

The flame of my son’s love keeps shining on my burning grief, and I am grateful.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

There are many houses of worship with gorgeous stained-glass windows. If you look around, you might find an image that has a meaningful symbol for you. Perhaps light a candle near it.

Source:

http://renegadeartglass.net/about-us/techniques/stained-glass/

 

Thriver Soup Thursday– Can Our Prayers Influence the Deceased?

The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.

-St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622)

Mary being crowned
Mary being crowned

Is the Rosary, a series of meditative prayers, the greatest method of praying, as this 16th century saint proclaimed? If so, would using the Rosary–or any other method of intercession–have any influence at all on the deceased?

What are your thoughts on this?

St. Francis de Sales must have had some reason for making this seemingly absolute statement. Catholics say the Rosary using a string of beads to keep track of where they are in the process so they can free their hearts and minds to focus on the connection this method makes with the Divine. Each prayer of the Rosary is said to represent the offering of a rose to Mary, mother of Christ, and when the cycles are completed, the person has symbolically given Mary a complete crown.

Maria Luisa Giuliberti, my former neighbor, asked if I would like to come pray the Rosary with her to mark the one-year anniversary of my son Tristan’s passing. Sure!

Synchronistically, Vince Lasorso, a tai chi grandmaster in Cincinnati, sent me a draft of his book, Healing through the Heart of Mary: A Miraculous Journey to a New Spiritual Way. “Mary teaches us, from her supernatural perspective, a spiritual process, The Rosary, that enables us to meld the two realities [the supernatural and the mundane] together in our lives,” he writes, “[to] heal ourselves, our loved ones, and our world through a heart-driven technology of inner peace and resonance.”

Maria and I sat at her dining room table and she showed me a pamphlet containing the rosary prayers. We set the intention of praying that Tristan would let go of shame, guilt, and remorse, and to experience peace. Holding our rosaries, we intoned together for an hour, raising up our intentions and prayers.

I am grateful to my friend for remembering the anniversary and for her willingness to spend time praying with me on my son’s behalf. What a beautiful gift. Was it the greatest method of praying for my son? Did it have any influence on him? I don’t know, yet I felt like I had done something meaningful, a gift from my heart to his and Mary’s. That is enough for me.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

If praying the Catholic rosary interests you, here is a link to instructions and prayers: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-rosary

Sources:

www.catholicgallery.org/quotes/quotes-on-rosary/

Francis de Sales, a Catholic saint, was a Bishop of Geneva.

Vince Lasorso, Healing through the Heart of Mary: A Miraculous Journey to a New Spiritual Way, draft, pg. 7.

Tapestry: Cleveland Museum of Art

Thriver Soup Thursday–Save Lives by Raising Awareness

sarcoma ribbon copyWe must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. That the happiness of one person or nation is the happiness of humanity.

The Dalai Lama

Some diseases receive enormous amounts of media attention. Others are sidelined or not even recognized by most people. I had never heard the word “sarcoma” when suddenly I was thrust into the world of a terminal diagnosis with a few months to live.

What if I had known that my symptoms indicated severe danger, when I thought I was just having perimenopausal symptoms? How many lives can be saved by raising awareness so others can avoid the devastation I was fortunate enough to have lived through?

I had an incredibly rare sarcoma—and only one in 100 cancer diagnoses is for sarcoma, which is cancer of the connective tissues. The Sarcoma Alliance and Sarcoma Foundation of America want to raise awareness about this disease to help others recognize it and get treatment fast to save lives.

These foundations are asking the White House to name July as Sarcoma Awareness Month. At least 100,000 petition signatures are required by July 29, 2016 for the White House to consider this initiative.

Please sign the petition and share it with others.

Alongside this petition is a movement to name July 15 as LMS Awareness Day. LMS is short for leiomyosarcoma, a rare and deadly cancer. Ask your state legislators to pass resolutions similar to one passed in Michigan (email me and I’ll send the sample to you). Then ask your federal legislators to support this at the federal level.

The suffering of each individual with a rare disease does affect us all at some level. Advocate for others, and they will probably advocate for you as well.

Thriver Soup Ingredient

Here is a link to contact information when advocating to your elected officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Sources:

www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/04/20-wise-quotes-from-the-dalai-lama/

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?utm_campaign=Bobek%20Ltd&utm_source=39150&utm_medium=Affiliate&tpl=39150-42119&id=163453907&irgwc=1