29 October 2009

Energy Healing with Ms. PacMan and German Shepherds

Body, mind, spirit -- not quite sex, drugs & rock-n-roll but a similar package deal. Each has some effect on the other. I've been taking care of the body and mind as best I can, but have been focused on the spirit as of late. I've started Kundalini yoga, which focuses on meditation as well as poses. It's been a challenge not to dissolve into church giggles during the chanting portion of the class, but I'm getting better. I've also been trying to scare up some Reiki on a regular basis.

I have two good friends and a cousin in California who are Reiki masters but I needed someone closer to home (and less close to me) to do some massage on my busted soul.

Aside: During brunch at Strawberry Fair many months ago, I was telling some pals about the Reiki masters. A distracted Cameo replied, "What? Reggae Masters? You mean like Rastafarians?"

After some online research and a flurry of emails, I found a practitioner nearby, a woman who does Reiki, Acupressure and Craniosacral massage interchangeably. She also had a number of glowing testimonials from cancer patients. The therapist told me she could come to my house but I thought it would be more helpful if I got out of my daily element, i.e., the hulking pile of laundry in the corner, rugs encrusted with Honey Nut Cheerios, Vito whining by the fridge, etc.

She said her studio in the woods offered a great healing environment -- “if you don’t mind rustic." Now, I’m not a big fan of rustic but can handle it in small doses if it's within driving distance to Dunkies or Starbucks. I scribbled directions on the back of a Hannaford's receipt and headed out.

Aside: Google Maps pinpointed three DDs and two Starbucks between here and there and it was only a few minutes drive.

Per her directions, I pulled onto a dirt road with no street sign. An adorable yellow lab freaked out in the first yard on the right (also per her directions). As I drove deeper into the woods -- and way, way up a hill -- the road became narrower, the brush thicker. The leaves and branches hung lower and lower over my car brushing past the windows like the bristles in a car wash. I started thinking that you could not only hide a body up here, but also an entire car. I drove a few more yards and then stopped the car, thinking I'd bail on this half-assed holistic mission. Are this many trees necessary for chilling?

But then the therapist appeared a little further up the road. She was a tall woman with very broad shoulders. Her hair, grayish brown, hung past her waist; her bangs were cropped severely across her forehead. She was part Kevin McHale, part Danielle Rousseau from Lost. She raised her long arm, beckoning me to pull my car up a little further.


I glanced at her directions, which I'd scribbled down verbatim: “Pull to the very end of the road. Cut the engine.”

Cut the engine?! Her choice of words suddenly struck me as alarming. I decided I would tuck my iPhone under the floor mat in my car so the police could track me on the GPS if I went missing. I pulled my car forward. Then I decided I should probably keep my phone close by in case I needed to call 911. She signaled for me to stop. I was convinced I'd wandered into the lair of some insane Craig's List killer or a scene from the book "Lovely Bones." In a few months, that yellow lab would dig up my elbow or femur.

Then I remembered to breathe: A) I didn't find her on Craig's List. b) She came highly recommended, and it was my idea to come here. c) Relax.

I wasted a little time pretending to rifle around in the front seat and then stepped out of the car. She walked ahead of me, not speaking.

I degenerated into inane nervous chit chat: "So, how long have you been up here?" “Wow, is that your horse over there?"

She answered me, Rousseau-style, one-word answers: "Twenty years." "Yes."

Her studio, outfitted in a small log cabin, was cozy and warm. And once inside, she became a different person, very soothing and personable. Or maybe I finally tuned out my irrational mind.

For the entire two hours, she explained in great detail how energy healing works. She discussed blocked chakras and the flow of chi and the power of visualization. She said she knew of a woman who actually cured her own cancer by picturing two doves flying around inside her body, pecking at corn kernels that represented cancer cells. When the corn kernels were gone, so was her cancer.

Aside: Ok, definitely skeptical about that one but I've decided to visualize Ms. Pacman and a pack of German Shepherds -- because why not.

She also shared techniques for dodging the shards of negative energy, however insignificant, that bombard us daily. From the news to DBs at Derby Street to road ragers to the Octomom, even the small things, overtime, can pollute the soul. And they're harder to dodge than you think (without imaginary German Shepherds).

Aside: Herein, the phrase "it is what it is" earns you a bombardment with New Age crystals.

Driving home from the massage, I was teeming with chi, caffeine free, no need to stop for coffee when you have Reiki. The rhyming and healing continues...

27 October 2009

Shamelessly Pimping My Words Again

(As Dr. Nic would say: "Big face, big face.")

Pink Lady
Today, the Patriot Ledger features a sort of in her own words story and audio slide show on the wee brownies and me. Vito even makes a few cameos (be kind: the camera adds five pounds) Great family photos, but the sound of my voice makes me want to crawl under the nearest braided rug.

"The Devil Wears a Mini Skirt?"
-- KB
Also in today's PL is an article I wrote on how slutty Halloween costumes for young girls enrage parents. Some great quotes from local mommas who have insightful, often hilarious takes on the issue.

09 October 2009

The Land of Ned

Last October, I participated in breast cancer walks. I clicked on the pink ribbon in a Facebook application or two. I even scoffed down one of those pink bagels from Panera Bread.

What I did not do, however, was perform a self-breast exam (SBE) or schedule a mammogram. Granted, the restroom at Panera is not the ideal location for an SBE. Still, once I polished off a bagel, sponsored a walk or logged off Facebook, breast cancer simply slipped my mind. I was only 38 years old. I have a family history of cancer but have always been vigilant about annual check-ups and leafy greens.

Then three days before Christmas, I was flipping channels with my daughter and we came across the movie “The Sweetest Thing” starring Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate. It was the scene where Diaz’s character, age 28, is standing in a dressing room, talking about breasts and gravity.

She pushes her breasts up to where they were when she was 22, then lets them fall to where they are now at age 28. She repeats this a few times, “22, 28, 22, 28.” My daughter found this hilarious, so I mimicked the movements. Then I felt something in my left breast. Something big and weird, like a ceramic hummel, one of the creepier ones, possibly pushing a wheel barrow with a hairless cat. I decided to schedule a doctor's appointment for after the New Year, because mammograms around the holidays…meh.

Aside: I think Christina Applegate, a breast cancer survivor, may have had all her films re-edited with subliminal messages to perform SBEs.

My first ultrasound was “suspicious.” I ran around with my hair on fire, ordering $200 worth of supplements from the Internet. I Googled images of malignant mammograms and learned the medical terms that would condemn or save me.

I pointed to my mammogram films and asked my doctor, “Are those pleomorphic calcifications in the upper left quadrant.” “Yes,” she said, pointing them out.

“I see they’re in a cluster, but are they also linear,” I squeaked out this question, knowing the answer. The doctor suggested I stay off the Internet and said the results, while “worrisome,” didn’t necessarily translate into doom.

I Googled survival rates. What was I going to tell my kids? I was officially swept into the current.

The MRI and biopsy results brought the final verdicts crashing over me like a series of rogue waves. You have breast cancer (CRASH). Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, stage 3 (CRASH). It’s in the nodes (CRASH). Just as I was getting my footing, the final wave ripped the suit from my body and knocked me to the ground: You need chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation, starting immediately. I felt completely naked, lying in child’s pose on the floor of the doctor’s office, not wanting to walk out and face what was ahead.

Whenever I saw a pink ribbon, I saw red. The color pink, so soft and feminine, represents a disease that completely defeminizes; a disease that robs women of their breasts, their hair, their sex drive, their self image. Not to mention the pink ribbons are so ubiquitous that they’ve become generic and no longer mean anything. Each diagnosis is as individual as the woman going through it. We all need to find our own talisman.

My grandmother, Nana Rie, got breast cancer at age 37. She died in perfect health at age 81 after being struck by a car on her way home from a dance class. I wanted to conjure her spirit. Instead of pink ribbons, I wore her funky costume jewelry and pins. I wore medals and good luck charms. I showed up to my first treatment looking like George Clinton.

Nevertheless, I give thanks to the pink ribbon and its army. One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Because of the pink ribbon, and the sheer numbers who’ve contributed to the cause, coffers overflow with research dollars and many more women will survive, even thrive, after breast cancer.

Aside: There was a fantastic article by Kris Frieswick in the Boston Globe Magazine about companies profiting from the pink ribbon. It’s something worth keeping in mind before purchasing pink products.

At the market last week, I saw “Sweet and Low” candies emblazoned with the pink ribbon. My first reaction was, “Wait, doesn’t that stuff cause cancer?” Even if it doesn’t it can’t be healthy. Going forward, I’ve decided that instead of buying pink candy, I’ll donate to a local breast cancer charity like Learn, Live, Love here on the South Shore. When I see pink, I’ll grab a healthy whole food snack and remind a friend about early detection. I’ll book a massage or take a yoga class. I’ll not only donate to great causes, but invest in my own health and wellness along the road to the land of NED (No Evidence of Disease).

03 October 2009

Burn, MF, Burn

Around a backyard bonfire with James, the wee brownies and some pals --  a glass of Veuve Clicquot in hand -- I torched the johnny.  Then I went to my car, found the mesh tube top, and torched that too.