Love Waves

Love. What can you do when you’re on the brink, but you’re scared to fall?

Love in Waves, Caitlin Marcoux, Blog, In Love Again, Nantucket, yoga

Love is so powerful, we can get lost in it like a shoreless ocean. It’s something everyone wants and so many of us watch slip through our fingers.

Were I to die young, at least I can say, on my deathbed, that I have loved so much. People with the most tremendous spirit, I have loved. Big and small. Male and female. Introverted and extroverted. Tall and Short. Round and long. Young and old. I have loved under dire circumstances, and loved during times of clam and peace. But for as many times that I’ve LOVED, I’ve also managed to consistenly fuck it up.

Love, Mastectomy, Surgery, Breast Cancer, Caitlin Marcoux, MGH, To love, what a privilege!

Do we recognize how luck we are to know this feeling even once in a lifetime? To just once experience a close approximation of this bliss? Let alone multiple times…

I think part of the problem, part of the reason love escapes us so often, lies in our attachments to how and what it should look like. More importantly, how long it will last.

We think if the object of our affection is the one, they will stay by our side forever; through sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. Till death do us part.

So we strangle hold love with our sweaty, hot hands.

When love evaporates from the heat of our grasp, we blame others, circumstances, and the Universe. Worse yet, we blame ourselves for the myriad of things we did wrong.

Do we consider, ever, that the love we lost wasn’t meant to stick around?

Why is our default to question whether we were worthy of love in the first place.

What if love didn’t look a certain way. What if lovers flowed unfettered, in and out of our lives, like waves of wisdom, passing onto us the lessons we need to learn in the moments we are living them. And instead of blaming ourselves and others for the waves recession from our shores, we graciously thank them for their generosity and let them go with the outgoing tide?

What if we see ourselves benefitting from each love’s imparting lore. And then when we’ve absorbed these teachings, swim back out to sea to wait patiently for the next wave.

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”
~Charles Bukowski

What if our focus was on loving ourselves instead of incessantly seeking love from others?

Perhaps in our entitlement hides the biggest mistake: that somehow we can get away without knowing and loving who we are first, and simply draft feelings of love and self-worth off of others.

What if we are only entitled to love only after we know what it means to love ourselves.

Love Yourself, Heal the Hurt, Caitlin Marcoux, Yoga TeacherDo you love yourself?

Like so many, I didn’t have this kind of relationship for the longest time. I was scared to look at my wounds and forgive myself for past failures.

The last past 16 months though, I’ve taken a crash course in self-acceptance, and find myself learning to appreciate who I am. I’ve quit making excuses for who I’m not.

After two heaping fistfuls of heartbreak, I feel humble, healthy and ready to practice what I preach.

It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love. ~Voltaire

 

In the spaces between recent relationships,  I’ve found the motivation and inspiration to begin a deep dialogue with my heart.  At 40, I feel wise and schooled as only one can be, after living a life full of stories and experience both positive and negative.The conversation is rich.

Although it is scary, I am ready to swim back out. After all the mistakes, the hard learned lessons, the time wasted blaming myself and others, I feel in love with my heart, my soul, my and spirit. I feel buoyant. I will not sink this time.

Resolutions.

{These are mine. As an exercise, take out your journal. Write your own. Design and commit, to the way you want to love, the way you will swim out to the line-up.}

The next time I fall in love, I will not forget how important, no, how imperative it is, to stay true to myself. To stand in my own authenticity, regardless of how it is received. I will release my grip on the outcome, on how I think the dance is suppose to unfold.  I will stay focused on bringing my best, highest self to the present moment.  I will give myself the gift of self-awareness. I will enjoy without expectation, the process. I will lovingly relax. I will nurture the space necessary to absorb the lessons being illuminated. I will be patient and kind to myself and to my partner. I will stay receptive and open. I will remain connected to grace.

Nantucket, Love, Yoga, Blog, Falling in Love

You are the one you have been waiting for.

Friends; waste no time! Don’t wait until half your luscious life is over to see your own heart as your greatest teacher. If  you allow self-love to be your personal swim coach, the next time you dive into the ocean of external love, she will remind you to take long, deep steady breaths in, and slow, smooth, steady breaths out. She will remind you that though relationships come and go, you can always surf your own breath.

Do not drowned but rather drink responsibly love’s sweet nectar, and should you feel your judgment becomes impaired, swim to shore and reconnect to Self  for as long as it takes to recover your ground. If it’s authentic love, your lover will wait.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.~Rumi

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{Some days are easier than others. On the days that are hard, guided meditations and affirmation can help. Listen to Sarah Blondin. Her podcast, Live Awake, is one of my regular tools.}

Breathe. Flow. Connect. 

Back on the Table

The Operating Room; and right in the middle, the table.

October 16th, 2015. Today is the day: I’m on my way to MGH to jump back on the table. This time for a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy.

Last weekend I rode 200 mile on my bike, knowing this operation was on the other side, and that rest and recovery would be about the extent of my physical activities for the next few weeks. The Tour de Pink was just as amazing, if not more so this year than last year. Despite my crash 42 miles into day one, I got back up on the bike and completed and full century (100 miles) the next day, and 55 miles the following day. My motivation was to take in each and ever moment, breathe as deeply as possible, and raise as hard and fast as I could.

This cycling swan song was akin to an advanced vinyasa practice and this upcoming surgery and recovery a long, long savasana.Uterus Art

I’m nervous.

The last time I was on the OR table I had both my breasts removed. I remember like it was yesterday, the cold hospital corridors, the revealingly, thin hospital Johnny, and the big clear plastic bags you’re asked to dump your personal belongings into. In the pre-op, you transition from person to patient and then patient to procedure. A nurse eventually comes into your holding area and starts an IV.

Eventually you’re moved from a wheelchair (even though your perfectly capable of walking) to a gurney, which immediately makes you want to simultaneously fall asleep and run away. Good byes to loved ones are said and then off you go. An anesthesiologist will introduce herself and start you on a sedative. You begin to feel disconnected from your body, your eyes start to float in their sockets, and it becomes increasingly difficult to hear the voices of the OR staff coaxing you to slide from the gurney over to the table.

The OR becomes a theater, and the doctors and nurses actors in a play.

You watch with distanced interest as the story unfolds and the air you breath sweetly thickens into darkness. There are a few final moments of awareness; someone puts an oxogen mask over your mouth and nose, a warm blanket over your chest and arms. You feel vulnerable, but cared for. You realize all of a sudden that YOU are the lead actor in the play, and unless it is Shakespeare, you will survive the final act.

Be In Love with Your Life

Every second counts.

Even these nervous seconds, minutes and hours leading up to this surgery. This challenge has brought some amazing people into my life, and brought me closer to others I never would have been friends with other wise. For that I am forever grateful. I have one Hell of a gynecological oncologist and the facility at MGH is the best in the world. It’s amazing to be in such good care.

Check-in is at 12 noon. Surgery is scheduled for 2pm. If all goes according to plan everything should be wrapped up by 4pm. I have to stay in the hospital overnight, and my mother and sister will be next door. We get to go home tomorrow. Quickly in, quickly out. And my mantra, as recommended by a dear friend and supporter will be “back on the bike”, “back on the bike”, “back on the bike.”

Many thanks for all the support, from all of you. And a big, grateful shout out to my friend Larisa Foreman and the Sue de Vries Cancer Foundation, for their kind donation – which will defray our travel costs to and from MGH this weekend.

Love,

Cait

A beautiful departure

Team Tasha Vinyasa B&W group photo

Tasha was so excited. Her famous smile would light up every time I’d mention the event. You know the smile I’m talking about. The one that would force anyone in her general vicinity to smile back, even if they didn’t know what they were smiling about. Tasha’s energy was like that. She had generous bounds of contagious happiness.

From the moment we began working together I felt like we were sisters. It was an immediate bond. One that is forged in the initiation fires of cancer, but one that could also have developed without cancer’s help. I immediately felt like I could tell her anything. She had an curious mind and a hunger for experience and knowledge. She ate up anything I shared with her about my own experience with illness, and voraciously took in whatever yogic philosophy I brought to light.

Some times we saw each other several times a week. We’d practice basic yoga poses at the studio, or focus on restorative yoga and body work. Sometimes we went for coffee instead. Once I brought her to my house and I passed on all my medicinal tools for mitigating the side-effects of chemotherapy and she wouldn’t stop talking about how much she liked the 50s motif in my kitchen. It’s strange like that with cancer: in one breath we find ourselves talking about how to survive, in the next we’re talking about interior design. We trying to find balance in a world thrown up-sid-down by treatments and tests, protocols and procedures.

Tasha did a fantastic job at keeping one eye on the cancer ball, and one eye on the rest of her life. And instead of wallowing in the unfairness of the hand she’d been dealt, Tasha was fully present in the moment, and willing to engage with anyone asking for her attention.

When I first mentioned the idea of a class in her honor she looked as if I had invited her to the Oscars. I told her about the positive energy we could create as a collective whole and whereas a less open minded or mature young person might roll their eyes, she nodded enthusiastically. I knew right away she was picking up what I was laying down. She got it.

Back in December we thought there was a good chance Tasha might still be well enough to attend the event, but as we rolled into January we realized that was not longer the case. Technology came to the rescue though, and she and I got almost equally excited when we realized she’d be able to watch the class from the comfort of her own bed via Skype.

At various points in our relationship, I shared with Tasha small pieces of yoga’s ritualistic heritage. I taught her a few sanskrit words, told her a little bit about mantra (the repetition of a word or phrase with a focused intention) and shared with her a few ideas about dharma and karma. I gave her one of the malas (prayer beads) that had been gifted to me when I was sick, and she wore them at the hospital. These were little things, little tools, but I could tell they interested her.  So when I told her that for Team Tasha Vinyasa, my intention was to get everyone in attendance to chant mantra in her honor she was stoked.

My partner, Burr; always the creative production force behind my classes, created a giant, 80-foot aqua mala as a back drop for the event – and I shared with Tasha, photos of it’s creation. “Tell him I LOVE it” she said, when she saw a photo of Burr’s crew drilling holes in the oversized Christmas balls.

Team Tasha Vinyasa

The day of the event, Tasha was in and out of consciousness. She had gone to sleep on Thursday night, and slept through most of Friday morning. She woke up at some point in the middle of the day, for about 15 precious minutes, and her mother was able to show her a photo I had posted of Mary Michetti and I cutting hundreds of aqua ribbons. Again, she perked up and talked about how excited she was to watch the night unfold later on her laptop. Shortly after, Tasha said she need a nap, so that she could be up with us later.

And what an event it was. I have never been prouder of our community. 120 people poured into the Studio Theater at the Dreamland that night, many of whom had never done yoga before in their lives. I had promised after all, that it wouldn’t be hard.

Men and women, young, and old, humans with spiritual beliefs as different as the color of their hair. It was an incredible representation of our island. Clearly, people from all different pockets of our community had been touched by Tasha’s story and wanted to be a part of sending her love.

Team Tasha Vinyasa

I can’t say that I kept my promise. At some point during the practice it occurred to me that life is so beautiful, but really, really challenging. So… I turned up the heat a little. I couldn’t help myself. I thought of how gracefully Tasha had navigated pneumothorax, chemotherapy, plural taps, and port implants. I thought about what a miracle it was that we were all there, with fully functional bodies with the ability to do challenging things. I remembered how hard it was for me personally when cancer kept me from my own physical identity… and I remembered a conversation I had with Tasha back in November.

She had expressed her frustrations to me then, at watching her muscles atrophy. Remembering all too well what that felt like, all I could do was empathize. I didn’t tell her how strong she still was, or try to deny what was blatantly obvious to both of us. But I did promise her that I would bust my ass physically so that she wouldn’t have to. A brilliant smile, of course, flashed across her face.

So in that vein, I invited students that night, to hold poses longer, to go deeper, to do it for Tasha – who so badly wanted to, but could not. To feel that solar burn in your thighs, what a privilege, I said. Some people laughed. Some people groaned. But you know what? They all held it together. The 60 year olds and the 5 years olds, and every one in between. They put in an effort, perhaps like never before, because they wanted to do it for Tasha.

Team Tasha Vinyasa

That night I witnessed our island come together for Tasha in a way I’ve never seen before. The studio was packed from wall to wall with bodies focused solely on one purposed: to open their hearts to Tasha. Collectively these diverse individuals created one huge mass of love.  Tasha’s family gathered closely around her, inside her newly finished aqua bedroom sanctuary, and watched the entire event from start to end. Tasha’s mother Tina, sister Allyssa, brother Timmy, step-dad Brendan, aunt Lisa, cousin Heather and best friends from California Sydney and Micha, snuggled around Tasha like a blanket. And Burr, with laptop in hand, ran from one corner of the studio to the other, doing his best to capture the depth of the magic being created for them to see.

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Even though she never opened her eyes again, I am positive Tasha heard every prayer this community offered and felt every ounce of love we generated. When my phone rang 4 hours later, I knew instantly that Tasha had left her body, and I felt as sure as I’ve ever felt anything that we helped her transition and guided her to the light.

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Tasha often thanked me for being a part of her life. But honestly, it is I who should be thanking Tasha. She has taught me so much about my own capacity to love and in a time when the world seems bitter and cruel, she has reinforced my belief in mankind’s ability to love one another.

Team Tasha Vinyasa

 

I fell in love with Tasha the way mothers fall in love with their babies the first moment their skin makes contact. Instantaneously. I think she had that affect on a lot of people.

And right now, in this very moment, Tasha is teaching every one of us the power of community, for even in death, her spirit has united an entire island.

#teamtasha

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Below are a few more photographs from Team Tasha Vinyasa Electric Flow, taken by my friend and very talented photographer, Katie Kaizer. In her words, Katie says “I am so thankful to be part of this community and to photograph such a moving and emotional evening. I am in awe of the energy that forms throughout the night and holds everyone together offering comfort and understanding. The entire room was radiating peace and love as we all sent prayers to Natasha and her family.”

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

TeamTasha_035_KatieKaizerPhotography

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Team Tasha Vinyasa

Many thanks to Floyd Kellogg and Pete Ahern for donating their time. We love this town.

get off my chest

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’ve lost four friends to cancer within just the last 10 days.

Although we had three different types of breast cancer, Nora, Malaya and I were all diagnosed around the same time. I didn’t know them in my Life Before Cancer, but we found each other on FaceBook and through my blog, and they became some of the most important people in my personal battle.

Nora and I became friends in July of 2013. She reached out to me just before my mastectomy, and from that point on became a frequent visitor to my FB page. We dedicated our yoga practices to one another, sent each other care packages, and offered up support at the most critical times. Nora often reposted my cancer articles and in this way pointed a lot of other survivors in my direction. Nora and I had very similar treatment paths… and supported one another through out chemo, surgery and recovery. We both had cancers that were Her2Nu positive, and had to have infusion upon infusion of Herceptin: a drug that for most people does not present side effects, but for some reason caused us both significant discomfort. We comforted each other through social media and emails, and bonded over the similarities of our suffering and the lessons we were uncovering within.

See every challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.

May we see every challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.

In addition to similar chemotherapy regiments, Nora too had a mastectomy – and was to my knowledge considered NED (no evidence of disease) when they removed her tumor. But that is where our stories diverge. Nora had radiation. I did not. Then at some point this year, Nora’s cancer came back, and metastasized. Mine has not. I don’t know how, or why, nor can I come up with any scientific explanation as to why I remain and she is gone. It is sad. It is haunting. And it hurts.

However, knowing Nora, I’m sure she was just as graceful in dying as she was in living, and found meaning, faith and peace in the process of letting go. Nora was a kind and beautiful woman. A mother, a grandmother, and a fellow yogini,  Nora was always positive – no matter what. The graphic above was the last profile picture she chose to put up on her FaceBook page. It really says it all.

Angel, Nora Boczar

Angel, Nora Boczar

 

Malaya and I too became friends through FaceBook. When we connected, she was already Stage IV. Having only Stage II myself, I initially felt self-conscious talking with her about my prognosis and treatment plan. While I was a candidate for certain proven-to-be-effective drugs, Malaya’s illness had already entered into uncharted territory. While I had a flow chart with scheduled infusions, varying dosages of chemo proven to work on different aspects of my disease, a surgical date and and discharge date, Malaya was being juggled from hospital to hospital, clinical trial to clinical trial, and for her, there was no end in sight.

All that being said, Malaya’s compassion knew no bounds. She and I would speak for hours on the phone about all kinds of things only sisters in the trenches could understand… When I couldn’t relate to my non-diseased friends, Malaya would make time to chat about the challenges of being a young woman with a life-threatening illness. She told me to get over my comparisons, and reminded me that pain is pain. I eventually conceded that she was right and I learned to have compassion for my own scary ordeal. Even though Malaya would talk about the shitty, cruelty of cancer for as long as I wanted, she never seemed to feel bad for herself.  She continued to live her life to the fullest. A former Roller Derby Girl, Malaya bravely moved forward. She married a childhood sweetheart, and started a fiery blog called Hip Checking Cancer, and to me she was a superhuman example of how to carry ones self in difficult times. (to illustrate, she was diagnosed during Hurricane Sandy, in a hospital that was quickly going under water, even then she seemed to captain the ship). To me she navigated her illness with the perfect balance of truthfulness, tenacity and grace. In August she wrote “I’m sick of this daily battle. I’m sick of being a warrior. I want a cure. I want a future. I want to live. I want a damn glass of sangria. ” She’s raw, pissy, honest, and yet she’s still funny. How many of us can relate.

Malaya Kelly aka Salmour Doll

Bad Ass: Malaya Kelly aka Salmour Doll

Malaya’s 7th treatment plan began to fail in August. I didn’t know, because I hadn’t checked in with her in quite some time. Focused mostly on myself; moving my family, starting my new business and being a mom, I was also a shitty friend. So like Nora’s, Malaya’s passing on October 18th hit me like a direct blow to the heart. I wish I had checked in. I wish I had had the chance to speak with her on the phone one more time. I wish I could have said good-bye.

Three days ago, on October 25th, I woke up to more heartbreaking news. A woman I recently met on the  Young Women’s Survival Coalition‘s Tour de Pink charity bike ride named Kara Guzzetti had passed away the night before.

Kara and her charismatic boyfriend Chris were two of the first people I met on the 200+ mile YSCTDP. I remember being extremely impressed by the way she brave showed off her bald head, and overwhelmed by how fiercely up front she was about her Stage IV terminal diagnosis. Despite a body that had been through hell, she got up every morning and rode as many miles of the grueling trip as she could. Kara had big smiles and endless amounts of good cheer. She inspired everyone around her. It was just a little more than a month after that amazing ride that she passed. Though I barely knew her, I will forever be inspired by Kara.

Kara Guzzetti, riding at the 2014 Tour de Pink, and an inspiration to all

Kara Guzzetti, riding at the 2014 Tour de Pink, and an inspiration to all.

I couldn’t help but think of all three of these inspiring ladies, when yesterday I attended my 2nd funeral in 2 weeks. As I sat listening to other members of our close and loving Nantucket community eulogize our friend Scotty, I felt like all these spirits were there together. I felt like perhaps they were all at peace, all pain-free, each of them the better off in a way for having faced cancer and having lived so fully in their dying to have inspired so many.

Scotty passed away after a 2+ year long battle with kapok’s sarcoma of the pancreas. She was my personal trainer for a time, but someone who shared the space where I have worked for the last 6 years of my life. There were many other ways in which Scotty touched my life, but most profoundly she helped guide me into a place of deep gratitude for my illness (which is a tall fucking order), and for everything yet still flourishing in my life. I didn’t know I had breast cancer at the time of Scotty’s diagnosis, but I had it. When three months after the Yogathon we put together for Scotty at the Yoga Room, I got my own potentially terminal diagnosis, it was Scotty whom I immediately wanted to see.

Scotty and I started going to the cancer support group offered by Palliative & Support Care of Nantucket, and I looked forward to seeing her there. She was always so eloquent, not only about the things she felt grateful for but about that things that were causing her pain. I think it was her truthfulness that drew me in the most. That and the resolve she had about facing death straight on. It was as clear as day -you could see it in her eyes. Being around her made me feel braver.

A few times I ran into Scotty at the Green, just randomly. And all we’d do was hug. We didn’t even need to talk. Some times she’d start crying first, some times I would. It’s like that with cancer patients – words need not be spoken.

Me; 2 1/2 months into chemotherapy. Scotty bravely forging ahead without treatment.

Me; 2 1/2 months into chemotherapy. Scotty bravely forging ahead without treatment early 2013.

It’s a very strange thing: to have outlived a large part of my cancer community. But it stands to reason, that when you surround yourself with people who have long-term and terminal illnesses, death on a larger than normal scale is to be expected. Yet as sad as cancer can make and has made me feel (especially this week), the prevailing feeling I take away from all these experiences is one of great, great privilege. In my almost 38 years on this planet, it has been cancer that has brought the most inspiring people into my life. To have known so many, many inspiring people in such a short amount of time is an honor.

Nora was right, “every experience, no matter how how bad it seems hold within it a blessing of some kind.” All we have to do is find it.

#nevergiveup

how to love a chair

Goddess pose

(photo: Larisa Forman)

16 months ago I invited you to join me on an adventure to CancerLand. Through my pieces on Rebelle Society and the more spontaneous posts here on my blog, I took you with me from the point of my initial diagnosis (terrifying), on a chemotherapy roller coaster ride (tenacious) and through my surgical recovery (triumphant). We’ve moved through the phases of my disease and healing process together as a tribe and I’ve tried not to pull any punches along the way. I’ve attempted to share my experience of cancer with you without embellishment, exaggeration or pretense. I’ve tried to be authentic: presenting my vulnerabilities when feeling weak, and my fortitude when feeling strong. Hopefully together we have demystified the big C at least a little, shed some light on chemotherapy, debunked mastectomy and embraced on the healing process.

I hope that through my writings, my FaceBook posts, and my Instagram pics, that you’ve seen just how resilient we humans are. Since I began attending the cancer support group at Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket, we have said good-bye to a number of extraordinary members. Each parting has been painful, scary and traumatic for those of us remaining. But my resolve, OUR resolve as a community to memorialize those who have departed by living the fullest lives we can live, and cherishing every single fucking moment, has grown with each grief-choked tear.

I can no better explain to you why some of us survive and others pass than you could reassure your 20-something year old daughter that after immense heartbreak, she will in time fall in love again. But here I am. And here we are. And I’m still writing. And you’re still reading. And we owe it to Jenny and Claudia, and my late husband Aaron, and everyone we’ve loved and lost to keep going.

We owe it to them to smile big, laugh lots, and love hard.

Now, as of July 16th, almost a year and a half after our disembarkation, I’ve finally  come home. I’m finished with treatment. The infusions are over. My time in the chemo chair is over. The trips to MGH are bi-annual and in just 9 days I will be able to say I am officially a year out from the removal of my tumor. 365 more days after that I will be 80% likely to side-step a reoccurrence.  Something will kill me eventually, but it won’t be cancer.

I’m sure I’ll write about my life as a cancer survivor in the months and years to come, but for today, I’d like to leave you with the following video. My heartfelt thanks to Lisa Frey for filming, and to all of you for watching.

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(10 Practical Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer)

(Making the Breast Decision)

(Life After the Knife)

{How to Talk to Someone with Cancer)

(Let’s be Friends)

 

Electric Love: Ganesha Charity Art Auction

Ganapati by CAM

Dear Friends,

Here it is in all it’s finished magnificence: “Ganapati” by CAM (aka Craig Anthony Miller). This painting, which was created before a live studio yoga audience, has been generously donated by the artist himself. It’s auction, which will start this evening on eBay, will raise money for Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket, the non-profit beneficiaries of our recent Electric Love Yoga, Music and Art event at the Dreamland. We hope you will spread the word and help us continue to raise support for PASCON, which provides much needed care for individuals and their families navigating long-term illness and those in need of hospice care and grief counseling.

Electric Love: Craig Anthony Miller Paint Session from KMTP on Vimeo.

 

To bid on Ganapati on eBay, Click HERE

About the painting: The Urban contemporary style of Craig Anthony Miller has shed another view on the popular deity Lord Ganesh (aka Ganapati). In the past four years, Ganapati: the remover of obstacles and the great lord of success, has become a staple in CAMs paintings. Originally becoming intrigued with the deity after a friends introduction. Out of the many Deities, CAMs connection to Lord Ganesh has become the one image that he still attached to.

Medium: Mixed media, tribal graphic that takes on the inspiration of stained glass. CAM has been painting the image of Lord Ganesh since 2007. It has become a signature of his Brooklyn studio and he has been commissioned numerous times to create the image for personal meditation spaces.

Dimensions: 55″ x 38″ on wood.

Bidding starts at $500 and will commence this evening at 7pm.

About CAM: The art of Brooklyn native, Craig Anthony Miller aka “CAM”, is an exploratory process, mapping shapes into images that repetitively convey messages of strength triumphing over despair. Initially influenced by stained glass art and the street art and graffiti dominating NY’s boroughs, CAM employs his graphic training to create work that explores far, distant lands and tribal warriors stealthily transplanted into layered urban landscapes. For years the ongoing theme known as the “Warrior Within” has since morphed into the popular Hindu Deity, Lord Ganesh, a now major symbolic form of CAM’s work. CAM’s latest incantation of “Be Mindful of Your Ability to Fly” and the term “A Single Dove,” has segued into a new path of “yogic” warriors and the reintroduction of figurative painting in an ever growing popular Yoga community within an urban context. The simple and complex construction of the body is more expressionism over the association /connection to body, mind and spirit.

CAM also has an Etsy store, where you can purchase very cool t-shirts and prints.

By the way, if you missed Electric Love, DJ Pete Ahern’s set is live on Soundcloud. You can download it for free and spread the love with a share or several. Take a listen.

~May all beings be happy and free

Love,

Caitlin

Sex, Lust and Cancer

henri de toulouse-lautrec The Kiss, In bed 1892

I have a new piece up on RebelleSociety.com. It’s called Sex, Lust and Cancer: Tips for Staying Sexually Alive, and it’s by far the most personally revealing, intimate piece I have written to date. It feels a little scary, putting everything out there, but so far the feedback I’ve gotten from other cancer survivors has been tremendous. If the article has helped shed some light on a taboo subject for even a handful of people, any vulnerability I feel having published it is well worth it.

My journey continues. Yesterday I had my 23rd infusion (my 5th in this cycle) and I’m one step closer to the finish line (I have 8 more to go). Although I feel exhausted, this infusion hasn’t rocked me nearly as hard as the last one did three weeks ago. For that I am grateful.

In between treatments my life continues. I have been lucky enough to go on two exotic yoga retreats this winter and study with some amazing and powerful teachers. In addition to having the new piece out on Rebelle, I recently took the bull by the horns and started writing my book on using yoga to navigate cancer. I’m teaching more and more yoga, (now quite a bit off-island) and just reopened my massage therapy practice. I feel like I’m finding my rhythm again.

I think 2014 is going to be an amazing year. May it be for you too!

Pretty: It’s All in Your Head

I’m going bald.

Many of us have had that classic anxiety dream, you know, the one where your teeth fall out? According to Dr. Oz it’s one of the 5 most common dreams. Your teeth falling out of your mouth is likened to your emotions falling out of control and is said to represent the worries and anxieties that surround us in life.

If you dream of losing your teeth, it has to do with ‘loss’ in general such as loss of youth and all things associated with our anxiety of getting older.

~ Dictionary of Dreams

Today is April 25th. It’s been one month now since I was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma. It’s a big day, there’s a lot going on and a lot to be grateful for, so when I sat up in bed to enjoy my 6 am cup of coffee, I was feeling pretty excited.  I opened up my digital datebook to check the schedule of todays appointments, and reached up to scratch and itch. Then it happened – a snowfall of hair and flaky skin, and it rained down, all over the glowing screen of my iPad. A faint gasp and then a sob… grief.

Hey, I knew this was coming. I’ve been preparing for weeks. I’ve taken steps all along the way that I thought would help me to feel empowered and in control.

Back on April 1st, I threw myself a hair cutting party. I celebrated cutting off all my thick locks, and had my dear friend Darya free me from the long hair I had identified myself by for the last 19 years. Then on the 10th my friend Anne cut it even shorter. I still felt in control, and I was managing my anxiety about going bald just fine. Thank you very much.

Ice Pack Head: April 14th, 2013

Ice Pack Head: April 14th, 2013

But last week my scalp started to itch something awful. The skin on my head began to feel hot – so hot in fact that I started wearing Granny-style ice packs on my head at home, and I started having the dream, except it was my hair falling out, not my teeth. In my car on Sunday afternoon I noticed a disproportionate amount of platinum blonde hair on my steering wheel and car seat. It was enough to make me pause.

So really, it should come as no surprise that on my one month Cancerversary I am facing the anxiety that accompanies hair loss. Scheduled, no less, to confront it tonight while I teach class, up on a stage, in front of 80 yogis and yoginis at the Dreamland Film & Performing Arts Center. I lived in Chicago for 5 years, where they have a saying, “Go big or go home”. This has never felt more apropos.

Yogis have a practice called Satya.  It is one of the five restraints, or moral codes of conduct, and is basically the belief that we must always tell the truth.

As much as I would like you to think I’m above and beyond feeling upset at the loss of my hair, the truth is I’m not. I can get on board with being bald, but  I am not beyond grieving the loss of my hair. I am not beyond feeling naked and raw. I am not beyond the pain and humility of this exposure. One month and 4 chemotherapy infusions in, my face is broken out, my chest and back are covered in red splotches and eruptions of localized break-outs, the tops of my hands are scaly and bumpy and itchy as hell. I am struggling to feel attractive, feminine, and sexual.

Blast from the past

Back in junior high school there were a couple of boys who’d taunt me and call me Pimple Face. I spent many nights in tears, struggling with a tube of Clearasil and my raging adolescent hormones. Those experiences left deep emotional scars and I worked hard in college to overcome the self-hatred that accompanied my teen years. Now that my skin and hair are being challenged by chemotherapy I am reminded how fragile and vulnerable my relationship to my body can be. And how diligently I have to work to keep loving myself.

The truth is that since surviving adolescence, I have enjoyed the privilege of being pretty and I’ve taken it for granted. Like many women I have wasted countless hours of my life comparing myself to others and have felt disdain for the the body I have been gifted with. I have worried and wondered if the men I have been involved with would find me attractive enough to continuously love me.

I have betrayed the beauty that I have been blessed with by longing for someone else’s. But I have never been traumatically scared, or chemically burned. I haven’t suffered an amputated limb or genital mutilation. I am fortunate enough to have a symmetrical face, and a strong physique. And now, on the brink of finally appreciating that, I have to stand idly by and watch my body morph into something I recognize even less. It is ironic. It is humbling. It is painful. But, it is also a gift.

It is an opportunity for growth.

Yesterday my friend and teacher, Elena posted on FaceBook that “Vulnerability is the best medicine”. If she’s right, I am getting one really big hit of medicine right now. Hopefully I can learn from this vulnerability and use to heal myself; not only from cancer but from the dark, ugly truth that I have not been appreciative of my body.

It’s time to embrace adage that bald is beautiful. In fact, both the men I’ve married in my life have been bald. Never mind that the first one died of cancer. He’s probably having a good laugh at me (or with me) right about now.

I don’t know if I continue to let my hair fall out naturally, or if when I go to Darya’s this morning for my pre-benefit pedicure I’ll ask her to shave it all off. There’s probably still enough hair on my head to spend one more night amongst the Hairy, but I’ll make that call in a few hours.

To all the women who have faced the loss of their hair, I bow to you. To all the cancer survivors who have showed their vulnerability and bravery, I bow to you. To all the BEAUTIFUL baldies out there – let me get down on my knees and bow. Thank you for showing me the way.