A Gate to Walk Through

I’m humming along this new path of resting after my surgery a few weeks ago. I am bone tired, at times, which supports me to embrace the rest with a sense of gratitude for the love and care that is being showered upon me, which is richly nourishing and healing.

As I mentioned before, having led an active and engaged home and community life, resting is definitely an art form that has taken some practice for me.  My partner and I have engaged in monthly silent contemplative retreats for three to four days every month and practice meditation daily so short periods of quiet are familiar and welcome.

While I am moving into the extended ‘retreat’ with ease, I miss community gatherings, gardening and getting a lot done in a day. I miss my connection to others and my contribution through my work. However, with a dose of self empathy, and the ever present sense of low energy I am celebrating and meeting my needs for quiet, rest, care and good health with good spirit.

As is the way of being in this earthly realm, walking the path of life, another gate has opened. Some gates you might not necessarily know are going to be on the path, yet when you reflect upon the preceding signposts it feels obvious that this would be next gate. However, let’s just say I didn’t see the gate with everything else happening around it. It literally just popped out of the bushes.

“How did you know you had a tumour?”

After my six month backpacking walk in Europe I came home and my breasts had increased two cup sizes. Maybe too much information for a blog post however, maybe this might help another woman who is reading this. I thought this blossoming cleavage was from walking and carrying a backpack and … the beautiful Italian and French food!

An increase in breast size may have many causes—more than likely a change in hormones. You may want to ask, what is happening, what’s changed in your body?

Granalosa cancer increases oestrogen levels.

One of the most common questions I have been asked by friends is, how did I detect that something was amiss? There were a few individual symptoms over the last two years that when put together point to ovarian cancer. Back and abdominal aching and pain. Pleural effusion. Tiredness. Nausea. For each of these symptoms, I had different ultrasounds, scans and blood tests and also alternative treatments but nothing pointed to the growing tumour.

At first it was thought to be liver troubles, which was unusual as I have a very healthy lifestyle.  However, I eliminated dairy, gluten and sugar from my diet, increased my water intake; and included more loving kindness practices and rested more which reduced many of the symptoms.

Occasionally, I had also been able to palpate a hard mass in my abdomen. Every time I went to the doctor it disappeared from the area so it was not given much consideration in the overall picture. There is a lot of room in the abdomen for an ovary to hide which is why ovarian cancer is often called the ‘silent killer’. Finally, I had a small bleed and, at the following visit to my GP, she felt the lump. The next ultrasound revealed the tumour.

With the removal of the Granalosa tumour nearly three weeks ago, the level of oestrogen in my body is decreasing and I am ‘welcoming’ in the symptoms of a second menopause – tiredness, hot flushes and aching body. One of my friends, who had just read a list of all the challenging symptoms of menopause, jokingly asked her group of friends — are there any benefits from menopause?  The responses from the group were varied and mostly very funny. One response that struck me though was:

Wisdom

I will put my hand up for that! Can I walk through the gate of menopause again, with grace and a good healthy dose of willingness and acceptance? It appears to me to be the best and kindest option that will foster greater compassion… and just maybe, increase wisdom through the ongoing integration of practice.

Menopause was not a gate I thought I would pass through again. As I write this post, I am reminded of the ‘kissing gate’ — a place where one crosses a boundary, stops, and pauses to ‘kiss’ both sides.

The Kissing Gate

My partner and I love to walk, trek, amble… especially in the UK. There are miles of pathways crossing through towns, curving around properties, traversing hills, alongside rivers — and many opportunities to cross boundaries using the old fashioned stiles and kissing gates. My partner and I have a habit when using a stile or kissing gate – we stop, one on either side of the fence, turn to each other and kiss. It’s just something we do. It makes us stop, soak up the moment and smile — that could be a life prompt – stop, kiss life, soak it up and smile!

A kissing gate is a swinging gate inside of a U shaped fence and, when it swings, it will touch or ‘kiss’ the side and top end the U shape. As a hiker you push the gate to the furtherest point of the U, walk into the arc of the U, then move the gate back to the point of the U just entered. You can then walk through to the other side. Sheep haven’t mastered the art of pulling gates so don’t make it through this simple system.

Can I ‘kiss’ the opportunity that is here — gently touching, kissing, what has gone and what presents itself? This is yet another clear clarion call to lean deeper into resting and meditation.

“I am breathing in. I am breathing out.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk and teacher guides a simple practice. As we bring our attention to the breath, we can focus by saying silently or out loud, ‘I am aware that I am breathing in. I am aware that I am breathing out.

A tender mindfulness practice as I lie down on my back with my head resting on a pillow, a bolster under my knees and hands on my belly. Welcoming life as it is. Just as it is. Which doesn’t mean not doing anything to ease the symptoms.  I have undertaken a few changes already and not eating sugar helps reduce the hot flushes!

And now for something completely different:

Ain’t No Grave

I am part of a ‘women’s music appreciation’ email group and we regularly send links to each other of favourite songs. Here is the latest offering showcasing this amazing all-female percussive moving choir of body musicians.

Ain’t No Grave  (And, if you are wondering, I am pretty sure the room they are dancing in is a burial room and the markers denote the names of the bodies inside)

and The Storm  

 

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Skye
Skye
4 months ago

Big hugs Wendy, I love your words and am happy you are feeling better. My health challenges have taught me so much and given me divine permission to become a being not a doing. It was hard—so funny that to give to myself, to slow down and find worth in that was such a big thing. As it turns out it was a gift.
much love
Skye

Kim Piper
Kim Piper
4 months ago

Thank you for sharing Wendy. Sending love. x

Catherine Wood
Catherine Wood
4 months ago

Just to acknowledge the simplicity of breath is so refreshing!

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