First Friday of each month, 3 – 5 PM
Support Group Description
This is an ongoing writing group that was created to help us express ourselves, listen to others, acquire compassion for ourselves and each other, and heal our bodies and minds. The philosophy behind this group is that the act of writing is healing. It is presented seasonally and occurs the first Friday of each month, is ongoing and never-ending.
This work can be soft, and it can be perilously rugged. The healing occurs when we stay in the process, feel what we are feeling, express what is there and be present for the group. There are times when you might feel like not coming, or not writing or not talking, but I encourage you to push thought those feelings and just be here exactly how you are. We try to start on time and end on time, but you know how that goes.
The group can get raw and deeply emotional and it can get scary at times. Please, always express where you are emotionally. We won’t try to change that, but change can occur when we speak honestly and share our truth.
Writing is scary. Sharing our writing is scary. Having cancer is scary. You might as well breakthrough by putting words on the page and using your voice to share. Reading your work is not mandatory and if it is hard, we encourage you to gently allow yourself to emerge as the writer and reader that you are.
"With love and ferocity – Athena Rose"
"Serenity Prayer - Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." - various sources
I am waiting in a virtual waiting room, at home on my computer, for my visit with Dr. Neha Goyal of the UCSF Psychoncology program. My dog-friend, Presto, is in the room with me while Mark is vacuuming. My experience in these past months of self-quarantine has been filled with self-reflection and radical acceptance. I've ridden a roller coaster of emotions as I grieve for humanity and celebrate my birthday under shelter-in-place orders. I finally feel like I am coming out of a state of shock and moving into "solutions mode". I strive to make sense of our world, to maintain rational positivity, and create the change I hope to see; yet, I know I live in an ideal world (in my head) and that I need to radically accept that there are uncontrollable uncertainties and overwhelming challenges in life. My experience with cancer brings me face-to-face daily with the facts of life that I must radically accept. I know that I must gently accept my hard truths, so I can continue to heal and grow.
This morning, I emailed my supervisor back and let her know that I am unable to return to work at Pacific Outfitters. I need to find a full-time job with health insurance in my field of expertise, whether that be ecological restoration, singing and acting, writing, or starting my landscape design consultation business while helping start Randy's welding business. Ultimately, I know I only need to keep trying - keep working to be the person I dream of being: calm and collected, unshakeable in the rough seas. I need to continue being kind to myself while accepting and moving forward and ultimately release myself of guilt for choosing myself so I can grow the future I hope to see.
I want to stand in a forest and know one day it will be old. I want to drink water knowing it will one day hold my molecular form in condensed fog and rain upon the quietly growing forest. I want to hear the birds sing and know they will still sing their rhythmic songs to the quiet forest. I hope the ocean will spray on a beach littered with naught but shells and crab carcasses. I want the fiery anger of my soul to burn long and hot - a cosmic star burning through time - the righteous anger that seeks justice for all children of the universe.
My heart beats with the same frequency of the stored radiation burning out in Earth's core. My intuition whispers my dreams for us all. I pray we find the strength to pick up the tools of selfless self-transformation. We need to address ourselves to facilitate our own healing. We must accept we are self-aware compassionate interconnected individuals capable of cosmic levels of collaboration.
Look at what we have done divided. Now, I implore you to imagine what we can do together.
Prompt 1: What are your hard truths? How do you see yourself? What do you deny? What do you accept? What are you working on (mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically)? What healing do you need?
Prompt 2: Write a letter of admiration to yourself. Bestow the love and gratitude you would give a loved one to yourself. Extend the gentleness and kindness of tone that you would normally take with a child or a pet to yourself.
Springtime – the Time to Reconceive Our World
“The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in the dirt, covered in darkness, and struggle to reach the light.”
As cancer survivors, we are uniquely prepared for this global pandemic. We understand the need to maintain the calm at the center of the storm, to be objective and look at facts to deal with the overwhelming stressors and maintain a sense of focus. We know firsthand what it means to be resilient in the face of overwhelming challenges. So many people are discussing our favorite topic “the new normal” and trying to rethink how we go about our daily lives. This is truly a new spring – with this time we have, let us explore the world we want to reconceive. What can we give birth to? What do we want to see grow in our future?
Many people are taking this time to plant gardens and reconnect with their backyards. A basic principle of permaculture design (Rothe, 2014) is Nature follows cycles of chaos and balance – a disturbance occurs, then the environment reacts by adapting to the disturbance through natural processes that maintain a system’s dynamic equilibrium. Doesn’t “dynamic equilibrium” sound better than “new normal”? New normal does not capture the perilous process of figuring it out – the adjustment period – going back and forth to the doctor, the night sweats and hot flashes, the rounds of chemo and radiation, the surgeries, the unknown and the known. Dynamic equilibrium (Huston, 1994) is used in Ecology to define the “moving target” of an ecosystem maintaining homeostasis over time. In life (A.K.A Nature) things change, sometimes quickly and sometimes very slowly, yet balance of resources across a system is the goal. We know all too well how life changes and how stressful it can be, and we have strength and insight that can help us make it through this tough time.
We are at such a unique time in our human history. We have a real opportunity to plant seeds for the future to help heal our planet and help heal our hearts as we take our new reality day by day. We must know what we want. We must name it and nourish it, to create the world we want.
Prompt 1: Observe your mental garden. Observe our global garden. What is your vision for our future? What seeds for a new beginning do you want to plant? What shall you feed your soil/soul? What flowers shall we plant?
Prompt 2: What invasive and weedy mental/social constructs and ideas need to be removed from our gardens? What should NOT return to normal? What shall we give over to the compost pile? How can we remove invasive thoughts, habits, constructs, and norms? What structures need to be rebuilt? Tell us of the world you want to see grow from the chaos of our current challenging and stressful time.
Huston, M. A., & Huston, M. A. (1994). Biological diversity: the coexistence of species. Cambridge University Press.
Rothe, K. (2014). Permaculture Design: On the Practice of Radical Imagination. Communication +1, 3(1), 1-18. Retrieved 4 1, 2020, from https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cpo/vol3/iss1/4