Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gentle Re-entry

Returning home from Commonweal ( today will be the first step of a new sacred journey. This is where the real "work" of the retreat begins. How do I infuse my life with the miraculous unfoldings that began at this retreat? I will need to live into this question and discover the multifaceted answers.

I want to let you all know that I have had the most amazing week of my life. Steve is coming to pick me up today and we will have the 3 hour drive home together to "debrief."  I feel quite vulnerable, like a newborn with very thin skin. My inquiry and the revelations of the week will manifest through this blog, but it might take a little while for me to begin "public" writing again. So please be patient, and then wait some more, as an old teacher of mine used to say.

I am getting very serious about my writing practice, and most of my writing energy has been either private or part of something that is not ready for others to read yet. I will be deepening my writing process 2 weekends from now when Deena Metzger comes to town to offer a workshop.  If you're curious about who she is and want to have an inspiring evening, come to Capitola Book Cafe to hear her do a reading on Monday, May 10th. Here's the info:

I am so incredibly grateful for all of you who read my blog and have contributed to my healing and well-being with your heartfelt prayers, thoughts, and wishes.  I look forward to blogging for you, seeing you, talking with you, and having some big hugs in the not too distant future.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Course Was A Great Success, My Book Is Being Published In Italian, I'm Off To Commonweal, & I'm Diving & Rolling With The Tumbling Waves: Life Couldn't Be More Rich!

I have been resting intensively since my return home last Sunday from my amazing course in San Mateo. I don't know how I managed to muster the energy to teach for 4 days, but I did it with gusto.  It was such an inspiring course for me, and affirmed my commitment to teaching. And now I am taking a few days to recover.

I had an inquisitive group of 18 Osteopaths who followed me into the depths of the material and then courageously explored their own territory. It is profoundly satisfying to offer the course that I wish I had had an opportunity to take when I was a student.

Three of the course participants were Italian Osteopaths who are involved in translating American Osteopathic texts into Italian. (The other 15 were from all across the US.) They will be translating my book into Italian and publishing it in Italy. They have already done translations of books by William Sutherland, Rollin Becker, and Viola Frymann! I am so deeply honored to be in such distinguished company. I was so moved to meet them and I enjoyed their presence and contribution to the group tremendously. It is incredible to meet people from far away, who speak another language, but who completely communicate and understand the language of Osteopathy.

I am off to Commonweal this Sunday. My friend Mary is driving me up to Bolinas (about a 3 hour drive) and Steve will join me for the grand finale lunch where the 8 participants in the retreat invite loved ones, and then we will drive home together.  I am ready to explore my life, health, and consciousness from some new and unexpected perspective. If you are curious about the program, you can check it out at:

Two of the fingers on my right hand have felt like buzzing sausages for more than 6 weeks, and intermittently all 10 fingers and my palms get numb, tingly, and painful. My oncologist confirmed this week that it is probably a side effect of my anti-estrogen drug Arimidex. Some of the most common side-effects include bone and joint pain and swelling. My pre-existing tendency to have wrist problems has made it re-surface during this vulnerable time. Years ago I chose to give up gardening and other hobbies that stressed my hands, so that I could save them for practicing Osteopathy. But now, the side effects of the medication have caused me to decompensate. I will take it easy, wear my hand brace, and wait patiently until May 17th when I will humbly have surgery to open up the space for my median nerve to function properly.

Life is quite rich. I am learning to dive and roll with the tumbling waves.

ti abbraccio, arrivederci,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Connecting More Deeply To Breath

I believe that our relationship to our own breath is so important that a good portion of my book is devoted to the subject. I am always looking for new ways to experience all the nuances of my breath. Fully engaging the breath leads to one very important thing that is both a blessing and a challenge; it augments sensation in the body. That's why we hold our breath when terrified or traumatized. It's a great survival mechanism during an emergency, but I don't want to live my life as if it were an emergency.

When we attend to our breath, we tend to quiet those pesky voices in our head that comment on everything and make us suffer unnecessarily. In a previous entry, "Waiting For Godot And A CAT Scan" on February 9, 2010, I told you that I call the voices in my head, "The Editorial Board." Thinking about the past or the dreaded future usually causes more suffering than feeling what's actually happening in the moment. Breathing is the best way to shift from thinking to feeling. When you take a deep breath when feeling something painful, it may increase awareness of the sensation in the moment, or it may help you relax and cope and make it not seems so bad. The most important thing breathing does is quiet the voices in your head that make you suffer far more than the sensation. When we can't breathe through a medical procedure, it's a good time to choose anesthesia. When you can't breathe through a situation in your life, it's a reasonable coping mechanism to temporarily blunt your reaction to it, but it's not a way to live all of life.

How do I commit to a life of authenticity, of being precise in thinking, feeling, and action, when there's a part of my life that I don't want to feel? If we prefer to live fully, then we must accept the consequences of the whole experience. Sometimes we feel things that are awe-inspiring, and sometimes we have to endure feeling things that we would prefer to avoid. We don't always get a choice.

It's easy when things are going well, but how do I stick to my commitment to live life to its fullest when I am faced with a life-threatening disease, when my future is imperiled, when my material security is at risk of dissolving, and when everyone and everything around me is stressed to the max in order to cope with the unreasonable demands of cancer?

In an attempt to connect more deeply to the healing potential of my breath, I have embarked on learning to play the didgeridoo. It is not only amazing and fun to play, but afterwords, it is incredible to feel the reverberations in my body.

My friend John in The Netherlands plays and sent me this video of a great woman player named Lies Beijerinck:

If you're interested in more information about the didgeridoo, including the study that was done showing it helped cure sleep apnea, go to:

And in the meantime, if you're not into learning the didgeridoo, perhaps you could sing in the shower, hum more often, or come to a Continuum class to cultivate your relationship with your breath. Go to to find a class in your area. 2 mainstream scientific studies have shown humming to be as beneficial as antibiotics in the treatment of sinus infections.

Just devoting a moment to noticing your breath will begin to change it. You don't need to do anything fancy - just attend to your own inhalation and exhalation and something will begin to shift and balance.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Floating In The Field Of Fabulously Functional

I've gotten so much great feedback on the term I synthesized in my last blog entry (April1), "Fabulously Functional." This is what I yearn to be. Yearning is the voice of the life force moving through us. At least it is for me. I hope it is for you too, because it is the most reverent sensation in the body. If you don't feel yearning, then yearn to feel yearning, and maybe it will come.

I want to float and undulate, to suspend and gain momentum, to move through the nooks and crannies of what physically contains my life, to slow down and be Still. I desire rest, unlimited open attention, and to feel the longing to be fabulously functional in every cell, tissue, space, fluid, and field of my body. "Continuum people" know what I mean, and for those of you who don't, you might want to go to a Continuum retreat or read my book.

This is how I navigate what presents itself to me right now. Many great teachers have used a version of this story. My analogy is not original. I'm in a boat on the ocean, and the boat is leaking. I identity with the water, not the boat. I have much more in common with the water than with a broken-down boat. The forces within the fluids will carry me through this. And I will be with myself, yearning, as we move.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

When It Rains. . . Must It Pour?

There is a saying, "When it rains, it pours." I'm not sure I agree that a little moisture falling from the sky necessarily predicts more disaster, but I seem to be experiencing a downpour of challenges.

Just as I was feeling better in the realm of cancer, and beginning to use my upper body a bit more, I strained my right wrist while exercising. I'm in the midst of a severe flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome. It's probably made worse by some of the medication I'm on and treatment I've had. I had hoped that 5 months of not working would allow my hands to have a good rest and heal, but alas, I was wrong. 5 months of not working has left me weak and less able to support my hands in gripping, pushing, pulling, and lifting. I have struggled for so long and (unsuccessfully) tried so many approaches to treatment, that I have to admit that it's time for surgery.

I had nerve conduction velocity and electromyogram studies done today that confirm my situation. It's humbling to be an Osteopath and admit that I have developed an ailment that my body cannot heal without surgical intervention, but that is what has unfolded. I'll probably have surgery sometime in the next 4-6 weeks. Once again, I find myself accepting something I don't prefer and having to make peace with it.

I have struggled for about 10 years with wrist and hand problems. My friend Mike, a fellow Osteopath, jokes about writing a chronicle of our profession entitled, "Disabled Osteopaths I Have Known or Been." Those of us who use our hands all day, every day, for our entire lives often develop sensitivities or chronic problems from repetitive microtrauma and strain. Every occupation has a hazard, and I feel like the rewards of my work vastly surpass the effects of its drawbacks.

Did I work too much? Did I not rest enough? Has cancer or sudden artificial menopause weakened my system? Was I born with some tendency for this problem? The answer to all of these questions is probably "yes" but I will never really know for sure. I am continually reminded of the need to let go of knowing why and just deal with the situation as it presents itself in the moment.

I do know that I want to live a long life with fabulously functional hands, and in order to have a chance at that, I need to intervene and allow a surgeon to give me a little more space inside my carpal tunnel. It's a very easy surgery. It takes 10 minutes. I'll be out of commission for a week, on ice and in bandages. After some hand therapy and more rest for 6-8 weeks I hope to be fabulously functional again.