Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bob the Butterfly Or Are You Living the LIfe You Want?

A colleague of mine was just diagnosed with liver cancer and has moved to a hospice to begin her journey. She is 52. The cancer started in her colon. If her doctor had given her a base line screening at 50, as is recommended, they might have caught it in time. As things stand, she has just enough time to settle her affairs.

This news reminded me once again that our lives here are so short and so very fragile. I turn 50 this year, an age when I have less time ahead of me then behind me. If you want to know why older women have little tolerance for B.S., that's why.

I believe that the best thing we can do while we are here is love well, do good work, and take care of our selves. For me, that last bit has sometimes been a struggle.

My colleague will not return to work, but I am in touch with other folks who know her. We will go and visit her when she is ready and in the meantime we will find ways to let her know that she has our best wishes. She is a good and talented person, who gives back to her community in many ways. My thoughts today are with her and her family.

Our single purpose is to magnify that Light we share between us - Mimi Foyle

After my sister died I had an epiphany about my high stress life style and what exactly that was doing to me. Then I got busy again and forgot most of it. Then 9/11 happened, and all that death and destruction reminded me again. Then I let things slide back into overwork and stress - I had commitments, after all. Then my father's fight with cancer brought me back to earth again in every sense of that phrase.

I finally got it, got it in my gut, how much self induced pressure and stress I was under and how this was undermining, not only my health, but my spiritual practice and the quality of my life. Soon after that, I had my own health scare. I wrote a note to two friends several years ago which I found the other day in my files - it's copied below. At that point, I was letting certain things go from my schedule. I'd buried my sister and my father within a two year period. I'd spent 13 years in the salt mines of Silicon Valley where we eat stress like air. I had volunteered with various efforts in my town, and I'd worked as an active organizer in the Pagan community for over a decade. As a Priestess and as an Organizer I supported, trained and mentored a good number people in the earthwise and feminist communities. I had also counseled and supported many of our volunteers through job losses, divorces, illnesses, deaths in their own family, bouts with depression, and other life changes for years. When the time came, when I was directing two large Pagan events and overseeing fifty volunteer staff members, managing a business and helping my father die, when it was my turn to need support, or at the very least, just needed to know that people would do the jobs they'd taken on, and not make me leap into a breech, I learned who my real friends where. In some cases, that life lesson came to me as a deep disappointment. In other cases, it manifested as a grace note and blessing.

I am profoundly grateful for these lessons. Both kinds.

When I realized that I had to bless and release things from my work and volunteer load I thought I would miss some of the community projects I had founded and directed. I do not :-) I kept three projects that were most dear to my heart, and which I felt I could most effectively continue after our move to Oregon. I miss working with certain friends and colleagues on events like our interfaith Witches Ball but we have stayed in touch and continue to network with others of like mind, so I have the best of both worlds.

If my own cancer scare had turned out to be serious back then, I would have had a great many regrets about certain parts of my life that were not as fully realized and cherished as they could have been. I no longer have those regrets. I travel more these days, and spend more time just being. My creativity is back. I am realizing the life I've been wanting to live more and more each day.

So my question to you is this: Are you living the life you want?

Take care of yourselves,



So, the month of March was interesting. Bit of a cancer scare. The threat
runs in the family. Beautiful eyes. Mordant wit. Cancer.

So, we did the usual tango of tests and procedures. I got my "Get out of jail, free" card last week. And any cells that were even thinking about being cancer are gone now.


The good news came on Thursday. Friday was our wedding anniversary. There was much rejoicing.

We drove to Santa Cruz on Friday and saw what was, I swear, the very last
Monarch butterfly left in the nesting grove near the beach. The ten thousand
have gone to Mexico by now, which, if anyone is asking, is where I'd like to be.

We called him Bob.

We think that Bob was left behind to lock up.

Bob was quite the wild guy in his youth but he's very responsible now. I
worry that Bob has become too responsible. In fact, he's headed into earnest and he's approaching grim. I've advised him to travel, see some friends. Lighten up. You don't have to help every flower, Bob. Just be decorative for a while.

To my credit, I think, I had worked on the stress quite a lot before the
Doctor got that funny look on her face. I wrote the notice officially
canceling the Witches Ball, prior to that, really I did. In fact, I wrote it over and over and finally took out the flinty bits that were sticking out, like caltrops, in certain paragraphs. These were made of earnest. And a bit of E-goo. Sharpened
by Feeling Let Down by Certain People. When I go all Victorian capitals like that, it's not a good sign.

So here we are; lost in a bust and a lousy economy, caught up in this horrible war, and worried about our civil and religious rights. We just can't find enough responsible volunteers to help with our charity costume balls, and those that have done the work well for years now are tired, and need a rest. I wanted to remind the Pagan community that they cannot just sit on their hands in hard times. In fact, it's during such times when they want most to run and hide that we need them the most. But a warning can sound like a curse to some people, and the staff - who have worked so hard on these community events for so long - deserved a celebration and public thanks, not a manifesto. So, we left on a high note, as was proper.

I'll tell you a secret: Most Mavens have a Martyr Complex. It comes to us as part of a matched set in our tool box. We can move from Doing Good Work to Doing Too Much And Then Resenting It very easily. (Such a fine line, yes?). Embarrassing, but true. If you tell anyone - I'll steal your brooms.

I feel good now. I put the bitter burnout demon in a blender and he's history.

The notice goes into the April newsletter and that goes out tonight. Then I go
on to work on the essays we've discussed.

As always,


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