Sunday, June 29, 2008

paying it forward

many of you have been reading here at turnip for months. you've followed my bumpy, emotional journey through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, you've heard me crash over and over. you've also stood witness to me rebuilding my life. it's been a wave pattern of finding my way, losing my calm, locating my center.

this is life. up, down. storms and calm seas. cocooning and blooming.

i'm feeling all that stuff, those cycles on a daily basis. stabs of panic, washes of love. it's all still happening. the cycles seem to move quicker these days, maybe because my days are moving quicker. i feel like i am back to working all the time and struggling to figure out how to rest, how to best renew my body and spirit.

you know, i was raised to be a worker, not a rester. it's not the healthiest legacy.

i've made a choice today to do something i've thought of for a long while. become a lender at people have been so generous with donations to me through all my cancer days. and each month, the universe continues to provide. through sales of my jewelry, i am slowly and steadily catching up. it might seem counter intuitive to loan money to others when i have so much debt, and indeed a business loan of my own that i am struggling to make payments on. i guess it's a practice of trust. by making this small loan to someone else, i trust that what i need will be there for me. and it's irresistible - because at kiva program, the loans are so needed and the amounts are so small yet make such a difference.

i am committing to loaning $25 this month to an entrepreneur in the developing world. if you'd like to join me, i've added a link to the profile of the borrower in my sidebar. my first loan is going to a group of women in guatemala who will use the funds to buy thread and other supplies for their embroidery business.
do go check out their profile and i bet you'll be as inspired as i am!

the image at the top of this post can be found here and says:
"everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life"
i think that quote has got to be true of money, too. that there is exactly enough money for the important things. today, i am breathing that in and letting it be true.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

wobbly with relief

ah, my dear faithful readers, thank-you for hanging in here with me! i am exhausted and my brain is a bit wobbly, but the business plan is done. yes, the first version has been sent in for review and i am so happy, so relieved.

i've been working with a local branch of mercy corps, called mercy corps northwest, on the nuts and bolts of starting my business. they exist to serve low-income people in portland who want to be entrepreneurs. so 18 months ago i took their small business class and a year ago, was accepted into the wonderful IDA saving grant program. over the course of this past 12 months, i've been putting away small amounts of money into a special fund and they've matching my contributions 3 to 1.

pretty amazing, right?

the catch? oh, yes there has to be a catch. i have to turn in my finished business plan and have it approved before i can access the funds...which have now grown to $3,600! these funds can only be used on capitol improvements for my business, like studio equipment. i'm very excited to get all this new equipment, much of which i have chosen because it will make production both easier on my body and allow me to take on more wholesale orders.

oh, and the additional pressure? yes, of course there has to be an additional pressure situation! i am going to do a huge retail art fair in just 5 weeks and still have tons of jewelry to make. in the past, this show has made up 1/3 of my annual income, so it's pretty important. and...yes, i need some key pieces of equipment to get all this work done. equipment i can only buy after the grant monies are released, after the business plan is approved.

thank heavens that plan is now done, (at least until they send back the first version with suggestions and edits). fingers crossed that process is quick and the revision is minor.

last week after i wrote, i lost a huge chunk of my work in a computer glitch, i was within just a few hours of finishing. oh, the screaming and tears! you wouldn't have liked to see it. i was beside myself. but there was nothing to do but brush myself off and start again.

i did take one day off on this past sunday, a special road-trip with a group of dear friends that had been planned for a long while. we drove out to the wine country (it's world-class here in oregon) and met wine makers, tasted all sorts of yummy wines and had a glorious picnic up on a hill, looking over fields of vines with mountains in the distance. the weather was perfect, the company fine...a really lovely day.

i needed that rejuvenation and got up monday morning ready to tackle the last piece of writing. that last piece, the financial piece, took all day! can you believe that i was still in my pajamas at 6:45 at night? i finally clicked "save" on my finished plan, stood up from the computer like a mole coming out into the light and got dressed so i could go find some food.

what a wonder that i have this level of energy, just 12 weeks after finishing radiation treatment! pretty amazing when you think of where i was, how tired and discouraged i was in march. i hoped i would bounce back like this. how blessed i feel to be doing this well, to be doing this much at my 12 week anniversary.

how very, very blessed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

help me, i'm melting!

oh dear. i did have quite a melt-down yesterday. felt as if the top of my head burst and all my brains formed an gooey puddle around me. it's the business plan, kicking my ass. hard.

the process brings up all sorts of questions, which lead to doubts and pretty soon I'm in some sort of duel to the death with the devil. or at least the part of my brain playing the devil's advocate. hopefully he's died a messy death in the explosion yesterday!

some of you must have gone through this process. it's as hard as ten term-papers, yet more important. people with money, those investors i need to say yes, yes, yes. this is the plan to gain their support.

of course, i am trying to make it too perfect. damn that attention to detail.

really, i told myself yesterday afternoon, all i need right now is the first draft. try to think of it as a work in progress. granted, one that has taken over my life. but maybe that is fitting, after all i am writing my life. it's a plan for creating a life worth living, a plan for making a good life for me and a host of people who will work with me.

perhaps this birth should be painful, it's the way of nature.

so i took something to ease the pain last night, two glasses of red wine and an excellent dinner. salmon, asparagus, wild rice. it felt so good to cook for myself without effort, just like i used to. i noticed the change, as i was making the food. i noticed that it felt easy. what a lovely shift from the past few months, when planning and preparing food has been such a struggle.

i am sorry to be such a spotty writer here of late. i am trying for once a week, as i miss it when i don't write. and it feels as if my circle has floated away now that i'm out of serious crisis mode. that's the illusion i used to live under, that i was alone. i need to keep fresh that feeling that you all are still standing around me, that my circle of support is intact and strong as ever. weeks of radio silence here and on my other blog has made me a little twitchy, i'll admit.

our summer weather is a tease here in the northwest and frankly, i'm just sick of it. i want the ease of warm days, one after another! but i hope where you are is all golden and warm and relaxing. check back next week, i'll hopefully be reporting on a fully finished business plan.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

war, what is it good for?

ah, the sun is finally shining and where am i? inside, writing. still writing. a business plan is a long and complex project. each part seems to have a sticky place, a veil of fear i must screw up my courage to part it and walk through. so i am, walking through. getting it done.

a friend called me this week to say she'd just been given a cancer diagnoses. she wanted to see what advice i had. there was about 1,000 things i could have shared, of course. but to start, it all boils down to: do you trust your doctor? and find the best possible care your insurance will cover. hope for the best outcome, plan for the worst. surround yourself with experts.

oh, good god we live on a poisoned planet! it makes me want to scream! and it's not just the air, soil, water, either. it's poisoned mindsets and hearts. we live in a culture of war. have you noticed that whatever our leaders declare war on - it gets worse?

see the war on drugs, the war on cancer, the war on terrorism.

the language of war is everywhere. the cancer world i've been living in is full of it. it is a fake and forced-cheerful language rife with violence and hate. from fuck cancer hats to i made cancer my bitch t-shirts to daily stories of celebrities who are fighting a battle with cancer. cancer has become the ultimate enemy, the thing we do everything in our power to kill, kill, kill. all of the traditional medicine solutions to cancer treatment work to attack and kill it. and just like any war, there are civilian casualties as well. surgery, chemo and radiation kill healthy cells too.

the body pays a price.

as i recover from treatment, i've been feeling the weight of that price. not that i regret radiation so much, but it was like choosing between two regrets. i knew i would wonder
did i do the right thing? either way, in the end, i decided i would wonder more if i didn't do the radiation. i am recovering nicely, by the way. each week brings better energy and a feeling that i am more like myself.

a thoughtful reader of this blog, who has since become a friend, noticed early on that i didn't use the language of war in writing about my experience. she sent me a great book, "
speak the language of healing: living with breast cancer without going to war". it's written by four women with breast cancer and offers an alternative way to relate to the disease -a loving way to experience any kind of disease, really. i always assume that when bad things happen to us, there is a possibility it can teach us something. if we are open to learning. of course, there is a danger that we can view things like cancer as being "taught a lesson" by life, or god, or whatever is greater than ourselves.

a recent article in the new york times, thumbs up is no comfort, talks about our cultural approach to serious illness and what pressure there is to go into battle, suck up your negative feelings and flash that thumbs up to reassure people you are ok. even when you are not ok. i found the link through one of my favorite blogs, aiming for grace. she has an eloquent response to the issues raised in the article, do take a moment to go and read it.

turnip for me has been a place to fall apart all these months and you out there reading have allowed me to feel, process and become ok with how i experience breast cancer. everyone has to find their own way through illness and difficulty in this life. it's been such an incredible blessing for me to have you helping to hold this space of healing. it's been a while since i said thank-you. yet i think it daily, how grateful i am for you, following my story.

thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. these shabby words can't say it strongly enough.

this is a ramble today!

Monday, June 2, 2008

new normal: busy makes happy

let me assure you, my friends, that i have been writing. busy as a bee, tapping away at my keyboard for hours. just not here at turnip! i was absolutely consumed with writing about honey & milk on my other blog when i got back from my trip, then that led to starting on my business plan...

which is nothing short of a miracle, really.

i have literally been trying to write my business plan for three years. start and stop. mostly stopped up, stuck. then about a week ago, movement. this incredible burst of energy started me off and it's just been flowing beautifully!

whatever is the change? why now and not before? i had a light bulb moment the other day. i realized that i couldn't write my business plan before because i was trying to write one for a business i didn't really want. a business that i saw as a means to an end, not my life's work, not my highest vision. i'm going to be writing about this thought in more detail soon. so if you're confused, please do catch up over on found object and click on "honey & milk" in the sidebar to read about it.

but once i articulated what i really want and published it on found object, bam! the ball started rolling. i literally started to get a flow of orders and sales on both my websites. talk about the power of getting out of your own way.

whoa, baby! this horse is ready to run.

each week my energy is growing and i am feeling more like i am stepping into the life i want. all sorts of thoughts and ideas are flourishing and i feel more flexible and positive about the future than i have in a long, long time. just that feeling alone is intoxicating.

so, have i made it to the zen center? no. but i have been doing mini-meditations while sitting on my exercise ball and centering my core. for some strange reason, this works. i have to concentrate to stay on the ball, which strengthens my body's core and also gives a focus point for meditation. going to the zen center feels like medicine right now. good for me, but not really joyful. and i feel so sick and tired of "treatment". so i either don't go right now, or work on seeing it differently. i am beginning to work on seeing it differently. there is a huge amount of inertia to overcome, but i will.

for instance, today was day one of riding my bike to the studio. my foot & heel problems have painfully flared back up, so walking isn't an option. but i am not going to be beat by that, fuck feeling like a broken old lady. i am going to do what i can, so i will bike for transportation as much as possible. i spent hours while recovering from the second surgery gluing rhinestones on my bike helmet in beautiful patterns. i'm thinking soon i might just paint my bike sparkly green as well.

you gotta make it fun, right? what are you doing this week for joy? tell me, please.

i'm sorry to be quiet here for so long. the good news is, i've been busy and feeling better all the time. diving back into the studio, running my business and being active has kept me happy and occupied.

by the way, for any of you out there doing the abundance checks practice, tomorrow june 3 is the day!