How does one gracefully walk alongside someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer? We all fear to some degree that big ugly disease called cancer. We all know someone who has either died or survived it. So what do you do when you find out someone close to you is suffering from this disease?
My journey begins on September 18th, 2015 when my sister called me to tell me her husband had been diagnosed with lung cancer....silence
It's like hearing a bomb going off. A hundred thoughts come flashing through the mind with a thousand questions. As you stand in shock, you struggle to keep your center and say something supportive and intelligent.
Good morning! It's a brand new day and a new canvas to be painted! First order up BELIEVE in miracles cause you are going to make them happen!
Today my sister takes her husband to Health Science Centre Cancer Care to be admitted.
Imagine you are leaving your home and you truly don't know if you will ever step your feet back in your home again. You have no idea what to expect, you feel nothing but FEAR, CONFUSION, SHOCK, EMOTIONS, SADNESS, DESPAIR, HELPLESSNESS, ANGER and the same question keeps repeating itself in your mind WHY ME?
Another new day. Word for today is UNDERSTANDING.
Today my sister watches her husband receive a barrage of tests; everything from Xrays, blood tests, drainage tubes. intravenous, exploratory surgery and a lumbar tap.
Imagine witnessing a man who has never had any health issues, to seeing him pulled in one direction to another, seeing a body used like a pin cushion. A man, proud and strong sitting in his hospital gown, feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed with fear.
Top of the morning to you both.
We have an identity; lymphoma T cells. Okay so now what? Chemo, chemo, chemo. All due respect to all the health practitioners who specialize in cancer care, but is that truly the only answer? My belief system is different from my brother in law's. I do believe you can heal yourself, I do believe in miracles, I do believe in the power of prayer, and energy work. I believe! But this is NOT my journey. I'm walking alongside this cancer, I'm walking along side my sister who is being the best she can be to support her husband in this leg of his journey.
Today's word is IDENTITY. You both will learn the identity of the disease that has invaded your body. Identities are made up of characteristics. Those characteristics are malleable like the mortar you use in brick laying. The mortar changes depending on the type of sand silt and water. So guess what characteristics are temporary and changeable. So in essence the identity is not permanent. Cancer whatever name it goes by is temporary because it's characteristics can change.
Radiation begins....our western world treats cancer like wars. Kill everything in site, kill all, clean up and then rebuild. Do you ever really recover from that type of war strategy? Such a hostile body takeover. We sit and listen to the team of doctors and nurses explain the plan of attack. The whole body and all it's perfectly operating systems will be affected by this strategy. Not only will my brother in law's body be filled with chemo and radiation, but he will be pumped with many other drugs to counter attack the barrage of side effects he is expected to experience.
What if there was another way? What if we could incorporate Eastern medicine (Ayurveda) with Western. Wouldn't we have a perfect marriage and we would not have to go to war?
Today's word is GENTLENESS.
Just when life seems complicated enough, you find yourself in a different hospital for a different emergency supporting another family member...
Today's wise word is CHAOS.
My brother in law is experiencing some ill effects from his first round of chemo. But there is something magical that is going to happen today. A ray of sunshine is flying in from Ottawa. This will help raise everyone's spirits.
Good morning! The word today is JOY.
So how do we get to the point of dis-ease? Where does it come from? What lessons are we suppose to learn from it all? Can you find gratitude in dis-ease? Can you truly bring yourself to embrace the dis-ease, love it, then release it to something greater than you; the divine? Walking along side my brother-in law's journey, puts you in deep reflection about your own journey and your own life. These questions and more are to be continued...
I'm beginning to think that I spend most of my time being drawn to my blog to write about cats. Not sure what is going on there. Maybe I should start a whole new blog dedicated to this species of animals that touch your heart.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the loss of my cat Stu. Stu departed the earth realm on August 19th, 2014. I woke up this morning, knowing that today might be a little difficult. I knew that my heart might feel raw as the memories of his death would come flooding in. So I'd set out to do something special, a little ceremony in celebration of his life and death.
However, the universe had something special in-store for me. This morning I found myself looking for Oso. Oso is our little grey kitten that knocked at the door last November. You can read about his arrival in one of my previous blogs. Oso is a gift from the universe. I'd asked for him and the universe delivered him.
Oso was not around this morning for his usual feeding time. I thought this was a bit strange as he never misses a meal. I poured myself a cup of coffee and headed out to Stu's tree where I could converse with him and ask him how he wanted to celebrate today. In my silent conversation with him I'd asked if he'd seen Oso and that I was a little concerned. A few sips of coffee later, a voice peeped into my head and said "check the road". My heart skipped a beat, I put my coffee down and walked to our road. Up ahead, I could see something in the middle of it. A blob of something. Was it Oso? I put my coffee down and started to walk towards this lump in the road. As I got closer, I started to run. Well you know where this story is going. It was Oso. He'd been hit by a car in the night. My little Oso was gone!
Life on earth is truly precious. We have no idea how long we are here for. One minute here, next minute gone, in a blink of an eye. When does death come knocking at the door? Are we ever prepared for it? What about those of us left behind? Are we ever prepared for the loss of our loved one? I believe I have a very healthy attitude around death and I'm not afraid of it. But having said so, it doesn't alleviate the pain in the heart we feel when someone we love is gone. When the shock settles down, and the grieving begins, you start to remember the loss of all others before. You find yourself "feeling" a universal loss and sometimes can see yourself being swallowed up by grief.
Can you grieve for a cat just as much or maybe even more than say a sister, brother, father, or mother? Is there any limit to the love we can have for another living being? Is it better to grieve alone or with others? Do other animals feel loss as well? So many questions and so much pain.
For me this day represented 2 losses for 2 cats. As I sat and cried for Oso underneath one of our old oak trees, my dogs also cried the primordial cry. They sensed through my tears of grief that we lost one of our pack members. They too can feel, they too can grieve. As I shared the story of Oso's passing: all of my friends felt his loss and shared in the grief. And I know as you read this, you too will feel the loss.
There is no shame in grieving for a cat or a dog when they are gone. We bring them into our lives to join our families, so when they are gone it feels like a missing puzzle piece.
There is beauty in grief. A beauty so undeniable, that it awakens and illuminates the soul. For to have loved so much and to have felt the love in return, unconditional is one of life's greatest miracles that we experience as humans. If you are grieving it means that you experienced the beauty of love. How amazing is that!
I leave you with the riddle of love:
"Everything it gives you it takes it away. But would you have it any other way?"
Hello, hello my name is Oso,
In the midst of a riveting conversation about fairies from Ireland with Mary Murphy (singer songwriter) we heard a knock at the door, or was it a cry?
Mary was explaining that if you ever go to fairyland you are not allowed to leave. There it was again a sound of something at the front door.
Could Mary and I be hearing the spirit of Stu knocking at the front door or were the fairies playing tricks with us?
Mary had heard the story of Stu (our departed furry friend) and his ability to knock at the front door, so we both braved opening the door ever so gently as to not scare away the ghost of Stu. Much to our delight, there was no ghost, just a little grey kitten vertically hanging on the screen door, meowing. The little gaffer came down and made his way in the house and proceeded to make himself at home.
Now let me take you back one day where in the midst of my daily regime of yoga, prayer, journal writing and meditation I had reread a journal entry from February 2014. The entry had brought tears to my eyes as I read a gratitude entry of Stu who had spent the morning doing yoga with me. Here is a snippet of the entry:
“I had a wonderful leisurely morning with my cat Stu. Did you know cats lay in areas of your home to take away negative energy, and then go outside to cleanse themselves. Well must be loaded with negative and unbalanced energy today! As I practice my yoga routine Stu laid on my heart first, then moved down to my root chakra, then to my hand chakras, then proceeded to pat my head. Imagine a complete chakra balancing treatment. He’s now outside basking in the sun. I am grateful of “Old great cat warrior for the loving treatment!”
I miss my friend Stu and in the moment asked the “universe” that if I was meant to have another cat, that I would want a male, and very affectionate, and loving cat. I asked for it to be delivered to me in a way that I would know it was meant to be.
Do you think a kitten that knocked at the door, found hanging on your screen door a good indication of a special delivery?
In spite of “asking” for a special delivery of a cat I still questioned its validity. Why do we do this? Why do some of us have a hard time “receiving”? Is it because somewhere in our lifetime of experiences that we were made to feel undeserving?
Appropriately today I received an email message from the Universe. It stated:
I can assure you, Carole, that the time will come when you, too, will ask, "In what fields did I sow seeds to deserve so very, very much."
“You were born deserving!” Wow! How many of us can honestly say that we feel deserving? When we can accept that this statement is true, we then can easily “receive”.
Know that you are “deserving”, that you are worthy of receiving. I gratefully receive my new furry friend Oso. A very loving, affectionate kitten that has opened our hearts and filled it with love.
Yes “receiving” is life giving, and we are all deserving!
The holiday season is around the corner and it depicts the season of giving. So how are you giving this year?
Giving; some take this gesture very seriously and others not so much. We are all guilty of buying a gift or doing a favor for someone for the sake of getting the task done and checked off our list. The gift/task was completely meaningless and void of sentiment or consideration of the recipient. Several years ago, I read a book entitled "The Soul of Money", and it revealed to me that money was and is only an energy exchange, but more importantly the exchange needs to be done with mindfulness.
So what does that mean exactly? Say your coworkers pooled together to buy your supervisor a birthday gift and you have been appointed the task of going shopping. You hold in your hands a total of a hundred dollars. When you confront this task with the sole motivation of getting the task off your to do list, you will probably go out and purchase a vase at Homesense with some artificial flowers in it. It's a nice vase, the flowers are nice, and really who cares! Your shopping task is done and you can get on with your day.
Now approach this task with mindfulness. You overheard your supervisor mention that they have been feeling very stressed with some of their challenges in their personal life, and in a separate conversation she/he mentions that they are in need of some self care. You know that giving them a gift that would satisfy the self care would be the perfect gift. You also know that your supervisor loves old historical houses and antiques. So you put some effort into finding some sort of "experience" that handles self care and in a setting that gives them what they like. You feel yourself get all excited to find them the PERFECT gift. You become invested in the search, and most of all you look forward to GIVING this gift. You pull up GOOGLE on your laptop and type in "spa, Steinbach" and your search brings you to a gem in the middle of eastern Manitoba meeting all your requirements; spa, retreat, historical house, and antiques.
As you are making arrangements to buy the gift certificate you realize that your mindfulness reaches a deeper level. The spa is owned and operated by a couple who are passionate about what they do and are dedicated to bringing the tools to help individuals on their healing journeys. Your purchase will help support them and in turn they can continue to help others. Your supervisor will get the benefits of a much needed retreat for complete relaxation and restoration and she/he will be able to manage their daily life with more ease. It's a GIFT that keeps GIVING!
Giving is what we, humans naturally are wired to do. Giving energy fills us up with love and we feel wonderful when we do this!
How are you giving this holiday season?
I am here to write today about a very dear, dear furry friend; Stu. If you have ever been a guest at the Calder House, or you are family or friends, you would have heard the story as we share it's uniqueness and beauty often.
Stu is short for "Stupide". I know what you are saying, that isn't very nice to call your pet Stupid. You are right it isn't. But if you pronounce it with a French accent it doesn't sound so harsh. Stu got his name due to the unbelievable "stupid" circumstance of how he came to be our cat in the first place.
We once had a dog name Teiga. She was a beautiful 10 year old, 135lbs Alaskan Malamute. Teiga was diagnosed with 3 tumors in her larynx. Her health had rapidly declined and she was no longer eating and barely drinking. We knew she was dying and taking medication or surgery was cost prohibitive for an end result that was not promising. We were faced with a difficult decision as to whether to euthanase her. We put the decision off as long as we could.
One day Teiga mustard up enough energy to go for a walk with Grant. They didn't walk very far, only up till the end of the driveway by the ditch . Teiga's tail started wagging and she experienced a burst of energy and excitement. Teiga ran to the ditch and out of the bull rushes she pulled out a small grey and white kitten no older than 4 - 5 weeks old. The little fellow was cute. All kittens are!
We imagined he must of belonged to someone. But first things first, the little guy must be hungry. What do you feed a kitten? Well the only "cat" food we had was tuna. So he got his first can of tuna. I have to say that he's been a fan of that stuff ever since. We decided to scout the neighborhood to find his family. Knocked on all doors and no one was missing a kitten! So where did this little guy come from? Was he abandoned in the countryside by some city slickers who did not know what to do with their kittens? Well we don't know how he became the cat from the ditch, but here he was.
In the next week to come the kitten and Teiga were inseparable. The kitten would be seen sleeping with Teiga or they would be mutually benefiting from a lick bath. They were new found buds. Unfortunately, Teiga's life was fast coming to an end, she was suffering so much that we finally made the decision to put her down. The kitten was about to loose his surrogate mother.
To be honest we had mixed emotions about this cat. We felt it was so "STUPID" to have to deal with a kitten in the midst of loosing our furry best friend. Teiga was put to rest and the kitten shortly thereafter disappeared.
In amongst my grief I was worried about the little guy. Where did he go? Was he eating and successfully hunting or was he be hunted? Teiga is gone, the cat is gone and we were left to deal with our grief and the worry of our missing new friend.
In many discussions about this cat, we decided if he came back to us we would call him "Stupide". The name although not nice was appropriate in our minds as the circumstance in which he came into our lives was stupid!
On the third day of the missing cat, I decided to go out and look for him. Maybe he was near the front of the yard where Teiga had once found him. So off I went calling for Stupide; Stu for short.
"Stu, Stu, Stu, where are you little fellow? Stu, Stu, Stuuuuuuu" I called. A few minutes later I could hear a very faint meow. A few minutes more another meow. Oh my God I think I heard him. Next thing you know he came running out of the thick poison ivy. I was sooo happy to see that he was still alive. I picked him up and gave him numerous hugs and kisses and we were off to go give Grant the great news.
So now what? Stu can't be an indoor cat as we had just opened up our bed & breakfast and I did not want to deal with cat hair and dander in the house. I knew we would lose reservations if we had cats due to people who suffer from allergies. We decided that Stu's life would be the life of a "barn" cat. This is a cat that lives outside, but has a warm place in the garage and never wanting for food. Soon fall came and that arrangement seem to be working out just fine.
You could find Stu following me outside as I worked on the yard or he'd sleep in my pocket from my overalls while I painted the windows. He was such a character and really liked people. Anytime I'd be feeling sad about the loss of my dog, Stu would take his two front paws and rub my cheeks. It was really special. The little guy had stolen my heart! There was no doubt in my mind that he was a very special kitten and I was starting to understand that the universe brought him to us to help grieve the loss of our dog. When one goes out of your heart another comes in to help fill the void. Stu was truly a gift from the ditch!
It is now winter and Stu is fairing well in his new home ; the garage. One cold winter night, Grant brought Stu in the house up to the third floor. I looked at Grant and Stu and said: "What are you doing? You can not bring that cat into the house!" Both Grant and Stu looked at me with big sad eyes and Grant said; "Carole, it's really cold outside". I looked at my husband and at this little shivering kitten and I knew we were doomed. I said; "Do you realize that once we take him in, he will think he owns this house and we WILL become his servants. There is NO going back!".
Stu slept with us that night and there was definitely no going back. There is nothing like the sound of a kitten purring who can imitate an old John Deere tractor. We were hooked having this little warm ball of fuzz with us. Stu opened up the crack in our hearts that night.
The love, the antics, the friendship grew and we are forever grateful for what he brought to us.
Six years have gone by where we have had the privilege of watching him grow into a BIG handsome cat. He has brought countless smiles and giggles to our guests who have come to the Calder House. Stu brought us many moments of cuddles, talks, sharing naps, petting, combing, purring in utter contentment. He developed the mentality of thinking like a dog, acting like a dog to the extent of being able to chase large dogs away, sitting for treats, and knocking at the front door when he wanted in. He has always shown affection even if he wasn't in the mood. He always had Friskiness and love bites for the guests. He even had his favorites; Kim I'm sure you going to miss having your toe bitten.
Life and it's experiences are a journey. I believe we are all angels having a human, animal, and plant. experience. We come to the earth to learn lessons and those lessons come in all kinds of formats. I know in my heart that Stu's purpose was to bring us the shimmering light to fill the void that Teiga's death created. I know that he was meant to bring comfort to many of our guests. I know that he helped many to heal on levels that we will never understand. I know that he truly believed he was a dog. He was full of tricks and always motivated by food. I know he loved us, Zen, Trudeau and Luna. I know he will be truly missed by many.
Stu I know you can hear me; "I MISS YOU BUDDY! You will always have a place in our hearts."
Stu died unexpectedly on August 19th, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.
God rest your soul my little furry friend,
Carole is the owner and operator of the Calder House Bed & Breakfast along with her partner Grant. Read more about the everyday happenings and events at the Calder House!