I could deny the symptoms no longer and made the appointment. Up until the last few months I had not been sick for ten years or more. But something had happened to compromise my immune system and the consequences were sobering.
I would be 64 soon, my mother had died with breast cancer at my age. In fact all of my immediate family had died near my age or earlier. The possibility of my following suit was a major medical reality.
So I did all the test...scans...x-rays...lab work and thank God all came back negative...in fact I was told because of my lifestyle choices (vegetarian...non smoking...outdoor enthusiast) I have the body of a woman twenty years younger. Really good news except that this twenty-years-younger body was wracked with pain, had re-occurring breathing problems, and was in a state of chronic exhaustion.
My doctor, who happens to be younger than my youngest child, looked at me and said, "Stress."
I could feel my body tensing up in denial. "Stress!! Stress? Who me? Why I wrote a book about Searching for Peace and finding it! Stress? Ridicules! What does 'that child' know?"
After doing some research on stress I was a bit more humble. I discovered that 'that child', with her freshly minted medical degree, was one smart cookie. Every symptom I had could be a textbook study on the repercussions of stress and I came to know if I didn't change something much worse could happen.
Basically I discovered 'stress' is not so much what happens to you it is how you respond to what happens to you. Eventually I was led to write down every potentially stressful thing that had happened to me in the last year. The list was an eye opener...at the end of 2008 on Christmas Day my brother, and only sibling, was found dead. He was 59 years old. New Years Day 2009 I was in Tennessee making arrangements for his memorial service and cremation. In February I was back in TN being made executor of his estate and trying to decide what to do with his property. In all I made eight long distance exhausting trips in 2009. On the home front some of my children had serious marriage problems and one daughter ended up in a homeless shelter overnight with her five kids. The year progressed and the list went on and on and on.
Toward the end of the year I had to put my cat to sleep. That day I hit a wall. I am not an overly emotional person. I can be stoic, calm in crisis, peaceful. I actually have faith and people call me when they are troubled. But when I realized I was going to loose that little stray I had a major melt down in the vets office. My heart broke. I sobbed as if I were dying.
Doubled over in pain I wept for the death of my sweet Mi Amor. He was a scrappy little cat with an attitude but I loved him and he loved me. Tears rained down my face falling on the soft fur of my dying cat. My whole body shook. I seemed to be weeping for every tragedy that has ever taken place across the earth since the beginning of time. I wept for Haiti, hungry children, lonely women, and troubled men. I wept for my mother, my brother, my children, the lost years of my own life when I had tried to please other people and lost myself in the process. I wept for the death of my own soul. Soon after that the physical symptoms began.
The plan for The Journey in Black & White came as sort of a spiritual challenge...perhaps from God, but for sure from myself. If I was going to live and not die something had to change. I would set apart a year between my 64th birthday and my 65th and discover who I really was and what part of how I lived my life was the real me? For as long as I can remember I had been embracing life for others, doing whatever it took to make every bodies everything work...this year is mine.
During this year I want to connect more to the solitude deep in my spirit where God lives. I want to find my lost childhood and see God, and the world, through un-wounded eyes. I want to have fun. Actually I want to find out what fun is! Not just what others think fun is but what is fun to me? I want to be Wanda, who ever she might be. I want to regain my health. I want to take full responsibility for my own happiness. I want to know who made the rules for my life and why do I keep them? I want to be kinder. Love purely. I want to know the black & white truth about myself and why I try to fix things and people. I want to re-examine my life and find a depth, a significance, a beauty that I may not have noticed before. In essence I want to live the next year as if it were my last.
I intend to travel light without a lot of preconceived ideas of how this year will play out. As a writer I did gather some tools of my trade to take on my Journey...five composition books, a thick journal, black inked gel pens, my Bible. Being obsessively into details...they are all black & white. There they are spread out on my table in the picture above. As I fill them I will share their contents here on this blog. April 30th is my birthday and my journey will begin.
I hope you will journey with me...comment and give feedback on each post...share your own journey to your truth.