What are YOU waiting for?

rosary-2149702_1920Two years ago, I made the life-changing decision of starting anew after 25 years with the same wonderful man and father to our three children. A hard choice. The hardest. Ever. But why?

Because in the weeks, months and years that followed my cancer diagnosis, I became painfully aware that I had not been my true self. Not quite. Not really. Buried deep inside was a huge chunk of who I really was. That chunk was my spiritual self. From the outside, you wouldn’t have guessed it because I went through all the motions that “made me” a spiritual person in other people’s eyes through yoga, meditation and a library full of religious and inspirational books.

My man, on the other hand, was a self-proclaimed atheist. An appellation that made me uneasy and that I thought I shared until I realized the difference in my head and heart between God and religion. Even though he was there for me as best he could, I never felt completely supported. For anyone who has ever chosen to “live” with or, as I like to say, through cancer without chemo or any other form of radiation or surgery, life can be quite lonely. There are no live support groups, no special yoga or art classes to deal with the fear. But the fear is there. Not only our own, but our loved ones’ as well. No matter if we choose radiation or not.

Raised a Catholic, I stopped going to church when I was eleven years old. Still, I was always pulled towards churches, cemeteries, bibles, rituals and religious symbols such as prayer beads whether catholic or from other faiths. Slowly, it became clear I could no longer deny my belief in God, the Universe or the Infinite Spirit, whatever you choose to call it. There were no two ways about it: I believed in a Higher Power and that Power was, as the same time, lifting me and loudly screaming to be let out. 

And so my spirituality had a coming-out of sorts. I could no longer deny who I was. Even though I hoped it would, I became painfully aware that my relationship could not survive this even though my love for him was, and still is, whole. It was not an easy decision and the road travelled since has not been easy either. Life did not take a 180 degree turn as I had imagined. Two years later it still hasn’t.

But then today it hit me. Cancer had brought to my mind’s eye an unbelievably clear dream of a community for those who choose to “live” instead of battling; dreams of a wellness center where women and men could put their feet up and their bums down on a meditation cushion with other like-minded people before heading home or to work; dreams of a place where sharing, crying, laughing and enjoying life every minute of every day was celebrated – because who knows how long any of us have anyway?

Did I make good on that dream? Regrettably, no. Not yet. I have only myself to blame. I let myself get steamrolled by life and it’s every day struggles. Still linked to my “old” life, I slowly FORGOT my own motto while waiting for a new home and a new financial situation. I CHOSE to stand still instead of moving forward.

That is my wish today. To remind you, just in case you find yourself forgetting too: stay true to yourself, be grateful, take baby steps every day towards your dreams. Pray, love and live every precious minute, hour and day with love and forgiveness in your heart for others but first and foremost for yourself.

Love everyone.

Judge no one.

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When the people you love get cancer

It’s one thing to face your own cancer diagnosis, what happens when someone close to you has to face that very same challenge?

The odds of that happening are, well, let’s call it a pretty sure thing. The good people compiling statistics in an office somewhere inform us that in the next few years, 2 out of 3 people will have to face that piece of bad (or is it good?) news.  That’s a WHOLE LOT of people! Out of that whole lot of people, right this minute, two just happen to be closer-than-close relatives of mine.

First on that short list is my father. In the past six years, his cancer has travelled from prostate to bones to lung. Twenty-six pills, every single day, keep him on his feet. He is grateful for every minute. The time he gets to spend with his grandchildren is priceless, he says. Making up for the time he didn’t get to spend with me. His only regret, he tells me, weighing heavy on his heart. I’m glad he told me and I hope I was able to put his mind and soul at rest when I assured him I would not be the woman I am today if it hadn’t been for him, in spite – or rather because – of the choices he made and the huge impact they had on me. I owe my life and my strength to this man.

Next up, my dear dear friend (and cousin). The verdict is stage 4 lung cancer with only a few months to go – and yes, 55 years is a mighty short life. Nevertheless, she is ready to “clean house”! Clear away as much karmic clutter as she possibly can before going on to her next squeaky-clean life. She is carefully going through her to-do list, planning her final weeks, her exit, her next trip. A seasoned world-traveler with a one-way ticket in hand. She had hoped to see Peru next year. I told her to name the time and place and I would meet her there in the next life.

Both she and my dad could be in full-on pity-party mode but they’re not. They have chosen to live right here right now, every single moment in gratitude and wonder – even through the occasional fear, anxiety, sadness, anger and pain. I love how they both have a laugh at all the earthly things they won’t have to renew, replace or take care of in the months to come. Easier than planning retirement after 50 years on the job. No gold watch, just one final going away party.

Still. I will miss them both. A lot.

Love everyone.

Judge no one.

Expiry Dates and the Gift of Choice

So here’s the thing. You’ve been to the doctor and you’ve been given THE expiry date. A month, a year or one of those get-your-affairs-in-order date. First reaction? My guess is you probably panicked. Your whole body packed solid with fear. Next thing you did, if you’re like me, is you dragged yourself to your computer and through blurry, teary eyes, tried to find a way out, a way around or a way through.

pexels-photo-159010Hopefully, you landed on this page because I am here to tell you that I CHOSE not to believe in the dreadful power of that expiry date.  Why? Everyone’s heard of at least one person with seemingly perfect health that one day just keeled over. Personally, I’ve heard of one man, in his 40’s, who ran marathons for crying out loud. Went for a run one morning. His last. Another man, in his 30’s, newly married, expecting his first child, rode his bike to work every morning. Blissful life, great shape right? Well, he got swiped by a truck. Point is, NO ONE can tell you what your expiry date is.


After being given my own two-year expiry date, I chose to forego traditional cancer treatments. I’m not saying it was the right thing, or the only thing, to do. What I am saying is that I did what I felt was the right thing for me.

Because, let’s face it: in the throes of fear (remember that you are also carrying the weight of your loved ones’ fears) we are most likely to forget a little something called inner wisdom. We all have it. It also goes by the name of intuition.  And yes, they may be right. Your body may only have one day to go, or a week, or a year… but what if you chose HOW you spent it? That is the only “certainty”, the only “control” you have. Most people, like the two gentlemen I spoke of earlier, never got that chance. To choose, I mean. I’m pretty sure there are a few things that they would have liked to do before leaving their family and friends. And so, expiry dates give you a chance to do just that: do everything you feel you need to do or have always wanted to do.  HOW you do this is up to you. In fear? In love? In faith? Faith (and a good health strategy!) can move mountains. It did for me. What if the date given to you was the wrong date? What if your body could go a few more rounds?   

I chose not to live by my expiry date. I chose to trust my intuition and go down a road my body and soul were pointing to. Against my partner’s wishes. Against my doctor’s wishes. Not because they didn’t care about me, but because THEY DID.  Was I afraid? Yup. I was terrified. And so were the people close to me. But somehow my long-forgotten faith, along with my intuition, both kicked in. Five years later, to the day, I’m still here. I am thankful for every single minute of every single day.

A week or a month may BE all you have. But my wish for you is that YOU CHOOSE how to spend that week or month: with or without treatments, natural or otherwise. CHOOSE HOW to spend each and every day!!

Love everyone. Judge no one.

Anger Management

I get angry. More often than I’d like to admit. You can’t really tell by looking at me. Most of the time, I can’t even tell. But if I take a moment. Stop. Close my eyes. Listen. Really listen. I can hear it bubbling, just below the surface. A low hum, a slow rumble. Easy to miss. Easier to ignore.

Me? Angry? Other people get angry. I’m the stress-free, fearless, easygoing gal, right? Wrong. When the bag of chips hit the proverbial fan, it became crystal clear that I had been angry for many, many years. I now know that anger, for me, is just fear in disguise: fear of being alone, broke, sick, unloved and unloveable. It took me a while to figure it out. So long in fact, that by then I was a full-blown junk food junkie and cancer statistic. So now what do I do?

First things first. I had to find a way to connect my brain to my body. (Shout out to Louise Hay, Florence Scovel-Schinn and Joseph Murphy. Thank you!!) It’s a work in progress but I am getting better at it. For example, last week, I was standing in the middle of a crowded supermarket with my daughter. One sentence was all it took. Something meaningless. Completely matter-of-fact. Something I thought I was completely over (apparently not). It happened in an instant. Spontaneous combustion. Images of Will.E.Coyote flashing before my eyes. A trail of powder catching fire and setting me aflame. Hands gripping the shopping cart’s handle so tightly I was surprised my fingers had not been permanently grooved into it. One big POOF and where I was once standing, a small pile of ash on the floor.

The next day, it happened again! This had to be God checking up on me to make sure I wasn’t getting too self-righteous: “So you actually believe you are over this?” said God chuckling. “Well, we’ll just see about that…”.

Anger and cancer are best friends. As are fear and cancer. Feelings of not being good enough and cancer. Cancer loves misery. It thrives on it. We’re not talking the occasional “that guy just cut me off on the freeway” moment but an almost-permanent and quasi-invisible state. Most of us are never fully aware of it until cancer hits. But once we see, we can’t unsee. And that’s a beautiful and scary thing. We have to learn how to live, all over again. Start from scratch, so to speak.

Have I gotten better at recognizing, facing and handling anger? I’d like to think so. I write more, talk more, share more, love more, forgive more and definitely pray more. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I could just start my life over, make different choices, be somebody else. But then I remember to pause and look around. Then I see it. All of it. How incredibly blessed and lucky I am.

Anger is Fear in disguise.

What are you afraid of?

Love everyone. Judge no one.

Success stories

I LOVE SUCCESS STORIES! I can’t get enough of those before and afters. But I am always left to wonder: “Where’s the beef?” to quote a famous commercial from my youth. What happened in between? How the heck did they get there? What was it like every day? We can certainly hazard a guess that it wasn’t easy. No before and after ever is.

Well, this page is all about the beef. My beef. Odd choice of words coming from a lifelong vegetarian born to meat-and-potatoes-eating parents. Meat was not my favorite thing on the menu but there it was, every single night. I became an expert at pushing the meat around my plate, digging it out of my mashed potatoes (where my mom had unsuccessfully tried to hide it) and inevitably getting sent to my room for not eating it. I HATED meat. When my parents separated after 17 years of marriage, I was in full-blown teenage mode. With the newly found freedom of no constant parental supervision, and no more mandatory sit-down family dinners, I discovered JUNK FOOD. Heaven on earth! Some people choose drugs, others alcohol, I chose junk food. The more socially acceptable drug. MY drug of choice. The wonderful thing about junk food is that you never actually have to taste it or chew it. What a waste of time that is! Bread, cheese and that oh-so-special sauce do a wonderful job at camouflaging the meaty part. Instant bliss. Not one single emotion could get through this. I couldn’t feel a thing. I had found GOD.

I’d like to tell you that I’m clean and sober now. But. No. Junk food is still my drug of choice when too many strong emotions kick in.

Five years ago, God (the real one – not the one hiding in my cheeseburger) showed up and gave me “powers” I never thought I possessed. Feeling more powerful than Wonder Woman, I punched through sadness, lived through anger and jumped through fear. Then slowly, I got comfortable. Really comfortable. Too comfortable.

Last year, when I decided to go through my own separation after twenty-five years, three kids, one dog, two cats, one dad fighting his own battle with cancer, a change in career and no financial security to speak of, I fell off the proverbial wagon. HARD. My body, not being the young pup it once was, is not happy, let me tell you. Every organ is screaming for me to stop and get myself under control. My meddlesome ego is shouting back saying I need all this crap to get me through.

I feel like I’m almost back to square one. But not quite. I have one big tool chest filled to the brim with everything I’ll ever need to pull me out of this pickle. All I have to do now is spring open the latch. So, God, heads up: I’m cranking up the prayers just a notch.

Peace to all you overeaters out there!

Love everyone. Judge no one.

Where Spirituality meets Reality

Welcome to my blog. My first. In English. But that’s for another post.

Sharing my views on cancer, food and life and how spirituality fits into all of it. A big part of my life. One that I tried avoiding, and for the longest time tried to convince myself I didn’t need. Then came cancer. And spirituality found me again, or I found IT. Desperately needed it sounds more like it. Like a giant raft in the middle of the ocean with no land in site. And it saved me in more ways than one.

Anyone who has embarked on a spiritual path knows that once you’re on, you can’t get off. There are no exits, only rest areas with not-so-clean washrooms and bad food.  So you get back on the road. Except you don’t know where it leads. There are twists and turns and surprises and road blocks and u-turns… but all of it is good. Very good in fact.

I hope to meet some of you along the way. It might happen. I plan on it being a very long road.

Love everyone. Judge no one.

Léa

Learning to love my food addiction and cancer

How unoriginal, I know. Show me someone without some kind of food addiction or cancer. We are ONE LARGE CLUB! I am adding my voice to this not-so-exclusive club because:

I can.

And because my favorite reading material has always been inspiring, beautiful stories of people who have pulled through incredible circumstances: Rising above obstacles, digging through trenches, hanging off the proverbial cliff by their fingernails which, I know, sounds like basic everyday life nowadays. I used to devour the Reader’s Digest at my grandmother’s house, not only because it was the only reading material in a 10-mile radius  but because I would go straight for those true tales of courage. While I don’t think I’d have the unspeakable courage to saw off one of my own limbs if I had to, I do believe we all have what it takes to pull through some pretty incredible stuff.

So inspired by these amazing souls who write blogs, hosts vlogs and create youtube channels to hold themselves accountable, I thought: Hey, why not? This might actually work. Aside from my journal, I’ve never had to be accountable to anyone but myself. Maybe, just maybe, being accountable to the whole wide world (or the one person who might accidentally fall on my page) might do the trick. So here goes:

Why Spirituality Meets Reality?

Because, spirituality to me, is:

  • Meditating (if I don’t hit the snooze button too many times in the morning)
  • Deep breathing (if I manage to get up early, I meditate AND do my deep breathing routine! A 2 for 1!)
  • Reading (inspired/inspiring reading)
  • Writing (I loooove writing. Would do it all day long if I could)
  • Yoga (weekly, daily, monthly… what can I say, it fluctuates)
  • Putting into practice what I’ve meditated on, deep breathed in, read about and yoga’d.

All wonderful tools that saved my body and mind when I was faced with my diagnosis (all gone as I write these words – as far as I know). Actions that I used to engage in, religiously, daily, for close to a year. Then I got better and thinner. Then I let life take over which brings us to…

Reality:

  • I’m a newly single mother of 3 (all in their 20’s… a whole lot easier… great timing!)
  • I’m a cancer club member (celebrating 5 years in a few short weeks)
  • I carry a lot of excess weight (been carrying it most of my adult life)
  • I share my days with a serious food addiction (this one has been around all my life – what can I say, my ego is VERY persuasive)

So accountability is what I am looking for. With cancer being a not-so-distant memory… actually it is a constant memory. The slightest cough makes you wonder all over again if the Big C has decided to make a comeback – since comebacks of all kinds are now quite the thing to do. The food addiction is another biggie. Five years back, I took “care” of the cancer by changing my thoughts and my food!  Slowly, but surely, I kicked a lot of the bad habits to the permanent curb but a few of them have come back like unwelcomed guests and have settled themselves back in quite comfortably.  Food, emotions and cancer. They’re my Big 3! 

I write for myself and for any one of you who might come upon this blog. Welcome to my strange collection of thoughts, dribbles and struggles of the every day kind. Because, honestly, what else is there? Life, I think it’s called.

My motto:

Love everyone (including myself).

Judge no one (yup! me too)