Day 87: Season of the Butterfly

I have a gentle peace inside and am radiating with hope. In looking back over the last year, there have been multiple challenges that opened the door to deep inner reflection and growth. I am thankful for the season of transformation. At this moment, I am awakening again to myself.

In reflection, I realize that I allowed a part of myself to die last summer, an important aspect of me. I suppressed an emerging connection to the spirit (my higher power) out of fear of people’s rejection and judgment. In denying an essential part of myself, I became suffocated in fear and worry. My body ultimately shut down in response to me repressing my inner voice and true essence. Today I emerge a butterfly, having been wrapped in a cocoon of darkness. Though I was nourished, safe, and undergoing a state of transformation, I rejoice in the light of day. I celebrate the season of the caterpillar while I spread my wings and fly.

Last year I wrote approximately 70 pages of spiritual writing over a course of a few months. I established a successful and beneficial spiritual practice, and surrounded myself with healthy relationships and environments. I lost track of this path, took a turn down another avenue, when I analyzed the significance and purpose of my personhood through the assumed perception of others. In response to my fear-based thoughts, I applied self-created expectations, goals, and needs to my journey. Through this process of analysis and fear response, I forgot the road I was traveling on. Actually, I think I forgot I was traveling. I stopped in my tracks, pitched up tent somewhere, and camped out in hopes of gaining love and acceptance, all the while forgetting my own authenticity and life’s calling.

Today, I have packed up camp and am returning to the path. As I walk onward, I am strengthened in spirit and hope and thankful for how spirit has worked through me. I continue onward, knowing I was exactly where I needed to be on my life’s journey, and am always exactly where I need to be.

Below I have shared a spiritual piece I wrote in response to a question in prayer. The words are what I received in response. I’ve also posted one of my favorite poems and am reflecting on the powerful creative fortress within each of us. Thank you for being part of this journey.

 

What of Illness?

By Samantha Craft Spring 2011

It is rather simple. Let us find an example. Take a boxer in the ring with two gloves, one red glove and one white glove in color; he hasn’t a reason for having one red and one white glove, and isn’t confused or interested; he just sees he has one of each. His focus is on the man in front of him about to punch him in the face. If he took time to think about his gloves in that instant he would be knocked out. So he doesn’t.

This is the physical body: the boxer.

The physical body (mind) can sense and see things are not exactly as the world would make the body believe. The body can sense one glove is red and one white, that something is off, but it doesn’t have the time to process this or it will be knocked out. The body is too busy rebuilding cells, carrying oxygen and communicating to vital working systems. The gloves are secondary. Perhaps after the fight—after life—the body will sit down long enough in stillness and wonder about the gloves—but until then, as long as life continues, wondering isn’t a choice.

Continuing with the boxer. He is standing in the ring and sweating, circling, and guessing his opponents next move. He punches out, swings forward and the glove falls off, red or white no matter. What matters is the glove is gone, and the hand is exposed. Now, and only now does the boxer take time to notice the glove, because here he has lost the fight, and the initial challenge is over.

Now sitting in the corner, still breathing, and very much alive, the fighter will have a chance to examine the gloves and wonder why they are different colors. Who did this? Why did they do this? Who can I blame? What happened? Why me?

If you haven’t guessed by now, this is a parable for how sickness affects the physical body.

So let us explain: It is only when you lose what you once considered your primary importance to living that you stop long enough to analyze where the gloves came from in the first place.

In other words, you stop fighting long enough to sit still and question how you got the gloves in the first place, and how in the world they are mismatched. This is the sickly person, the ill taken, the previously formidable turned apparently weak. But in actuality they are no less weak than when they had two gloves, they only think they are because they have become so dependent on the gloves—so dependent on ignoring what is right in front of them in order to win.

So as you appear sick at the moment, remember this is only you stopping long enough to examine your missing glove, and to recognize they were mismatched. You knew before, you surely knew one was red and one was white, but you kept fighting, because that is all you thought you could do. Now surely when your timeout is over, and you return to the ring with two matching gloves, having have solved any mystery you attempted to solve, you will notice your gloves with a higher degree. You might even treat them a bit differently—treat them with respect. This is the best we can explain it.

When you are sick, it is your spirits way of saying we need to stop fighting for a while and notice what is directly in front of us before we get back in the ring. It is our spirit saying we are tired of fighting. It is our body’s way of saying there is something amiss that requires attention—what ever level you are comfortable giving me that attention is completely fine, but please take care of the issue at hand.

Grumpiness over illness is what you call normal—grumpiness about being out of the game for a bit. But gratitude is more appropriate, because all around you people are swinging punches with two mismatched gloves and not even noticing.

Take this time to figure out how your gloves became mismatched. Figure out how to match them again. Figure out if you want to keep fighting, or perhaps leave the ring for a bit, even forever. This is your ultimate choice. We keep mismatching your gloves, you keep ignoring, until one falls off, and then, my precious child, it’s time to sit out some.

The Voice in Love’s Garden

by Samantha Craft 2011

The voice in love’s garden

Though withered, though frail

Triumphant in calling

Flows forth, bold the sail

Ship sprung from deep valley

Of bitter, of cold

Seeks ease from wind’s blowing

Through rivers that hold

To canker not sorely

To parch not again

To rise not the urchin

Less thee drown in thy sin

Come; march in like troopers

Whence faith seeds from bone

Light ever the forest

Where tramp shadowed alone

For nil eyes to fathom

The coursing of chance

The grace twice endowed

With life’s circumstance

Call forth idle trumpets

Thyself and thy truth

Bestowed as blind starships

Sweet daughters of Ruth

Tiptoe, touch the clovers

Tender green of begin

Retreat in placid pastures

The solid fortress within

More of my spiritual writings:

Prophet in my Pocket

The Wounded Healer

A Sliver of My Sacred Hour

Day 80: Me in Parts

There’s a reason I didn’t go into the medical field besides the fact that I faint if I look at a needle. I don’t do well with illness, disease, or sickness of any sorts, or thoughts of being attacked by a killer species. I do fine with driving my car, walking down dark alleys, crossing bridges, and climbing high places, just can’t deal with physical health conditions—well at least not rationally. The common cold sends me into a tailspin: worse case scenario, worser case scenario, worsest case scenario.

In the course of my four decades plus of living, I was certain of my imminent death at least five times a year. Looming demise total equals 200 times, give or take a death or two. And I’m not talking a passing thought. I’m saying a good two- to three-week sickness-induced death-terror cycle. And with the invention of Google God, the all-knowing search engine, I’ve also had hours of adrenaline-pumped investigative research.

Last year, about this time, I was certain, dead certain, that my heart was going to explode from a genetic disorder. I was so convinced I had the syndrome that I was continually analyzing myself for symptoms, even in my dream state.  In fact, in a comical attempt to self-diagnose, I compared my attached earlobes to others’ attached earlobes and even wondered if my large Italian nose could feasible be considered pinched.

When I was younger, rabies was my big fear. I never ever should have watched the depressing classic Old Yeller in third grade. Why?! Afterwards, my hamster-bit finger led me to check my mouth for foaming saliva hourly, for a month! Watching Hitchcock’s The Birds was another faux pas. Remember the killer bees? Well I do. I believed for years the bees were approaching in swarm.

Bloody noses are notorious fear-buttons, ever since I saw that character on a television show with a bloody nose bleed-out and die.

My fear of the C word started after my kindergarten teacher died; and I still can’t write the word out on paper. Which ironically-sucks because it’s my astrological zodiac sign. Four times during my life, twice as a teenager, and twice as a young mother, doctors suspected I had C or pre-C. No cause for alarm in all four cases, but the panic that ensued during the waiting period was insurmountable.

You know what really bites? Working at a homeless shelter and having a child infected with AIDS bite my leg through my jeans. The doctors assured me my chances of contracting AIDS was almost zero; still they wanted to be certain. I checked my tongue for a white-coat and my skin for sores for a good year.

My most laughable approaching-doom-fear happened when I was nursing my firstborn in the late hours of the night, and I’d stare down at the dirt in the corner of my toenail, and know I was going to die of toe fungus. If you bring in the big guns like MRSA, I so freak out. Any infection is MRSA. Hives? I’m certain I’ll suffocate from severe allergic reaction.  Menstrual cycle off a day—I have growths on my ovaries.

To make matters worse, doctors have wanted to remove my uterus and my gallbladder, and to biopsy my kidney. None of which happened. But the fact of their recommending such procedures makes me think I have bad parts to begin with.

If you’ve got your wits about you, you’ve probably gathered I have a wee bit of a phobia to illness in any form—real, made up, imagined, or non-existent.

What many do not understand about this illness phobia is that no amount of exposure makes a dang difference. With exposure therapy, if someone is afraid of bridges, you can slowly and decisively assist him or her in overcoming the bridge fear. A common therapy strategy might be first showing pictures of bridges, next playing with toy bridges, later taking photos of bridges from afar, and then crossing a small bridge over a creek. If therapy is effective, then the person eventually will cross a bridge as a passenger, then drive assisted, and later cross alone. Sounds logical.

Doesn’t apply to illness: First look at pictures of people who are sick, next play in filthy area, later… not helping! And getting sick and sick over and over again, doesn’t help either. Done that.

I haven’t been feeling myself, lately. Which is significant. Generally speaking my self, due to a host of syndromes and conditions, is relatively fatigued, a little melancholic, and a bit sore in the muscles. So, I hadn’t taken too much note of my intense fatigue, until I could barely function most of the day. My doctor had in the meanwhile sent me my annual blood test forms in the mail (twice), which I avoided like the plague (or in my case the common cold). I finally dragged myself to the doc when the heart palpitations and shortness of breath kicked in. By the day I got my stubborn self to the doc’s office, my forehead was peeling like a rattlesnake sheds.

The good news is it turns out those eight extra pounds are not my fault! And either is this depressions cloud I blamed on the Washington winter weather. Turns out I have hypothyroid.

Guess what this hypothyroid reckoning does to my mind. Here’s the conversation I had with my doctor. I kid you not.

Me: “Well, now that I know I have hypothyroid, I guess I should mention that I’ve been having trouble swallowing. I read that’s a symptom, too.”

Dr. “Oh.” She pulls out a lab slip. “Well then we better get an ultrasound for nodules.”

Me: “Nodules? Can I die from nodules?”

“No”

“I can’t?”

“No.”

“What is the worse case scenario?”

“If they find nodules, the protocol is to keep a watchful eye on them. If they grow, they’ll likely drain them. But nodules are not deadly.”

“Oh, good, but what about cancer? Could I have cancer? Or did my blood tests rule that out?”

“No. Your blood tests didn’t rule that out. But thyroid cancer is very, very rare.”

My eyes grew super big and I swallowed hard.

Dr. added: “And the cure rate for thyroid cancer is 100%.”

“Oh!” Huge sigh. “Thank you so much for adding that. How long will I have to take the pills?”

“For the rest of your life.”

Long pause.

Me: “But what if the end of the world comes? How will I get my pills?”

 

 

 

 

Side Note: (euphemism for I can’t stop babbling)

Taking into consideration the four types of thyroid cancers, I recently researched, the combined cure rate is only 95%. For better effect, in the writing above, you’ll note, I fearlessly overcame my fear of the word cancer. The title Me in Parts means I feel as if I’ve sorted myself into parts with all my constant sickness analysis. The good news is, I always live like I’m dying.