Tuesday, July 31, 2012


This is wild BUT....the group leader told us that, if we took flash photos of the sky above the Casa at night, we might see orbs.

So I went there with a few others from my group. We took some photos on the street outside the Casa....one or two things you might call orbs showed up (in my camera - they were getting nothing), but not enough to be convincing.  

Then we went into the Casa (grounds with a few buildings, so you are mostly out in the night sky) and WOW! Orbs everywhere! I tried taking a photo of the same piece of sky twice in a row - two completely different patterns of orbs. It was wild. Totally awe-inspiring.

After taking lots of these photos, I went under a rooftop to meditate and doubt set in. Maybe it was just my flash reflecting off whatever dust was in the air? Because of course, I have an experience and then I doubt....

So again, I step out from under the roof, still in the Casa, and take more photos...nothing. Another photo....nothing. So if it is dust, why are there NONE? I am guessing that they aren't appearing when I'm not believing. 

I'm so in awe.

The people here are really nice. Josie, our group leader, describes it as being surrounded by love. I don't feel that way, but I do feel an absence of stress in everyone, and alot of kindness. And I personally love that enough to surround this whole area with love.

In case I am offline for a bit...

I'm writing now because not sure if I will be able to write for the next three days. Tomorrow morning, we get in line at 7 a.m. to see John of God. The line doesn't actually start moving until 8 a.m., but we are advised to be there by 7:10 at the latest. 

Once we see him, we will get our specific next steps. One of those possible steps involves being totally quiet in your room. The only movement allowed is to go to the bathroom. No reading, listening to music, or computer work for 24 hours. Meals will be delivered to our room.

In case this is our path, we had to fill out meal choices in advance. Today, I went to Frutti's, the Juice Bar, and they make an awesome green smoothie, complete with spinach, chard, watercress, parsley and cucumber. I predict that most of my cash will be going to Frutti's. In the meantime, I put that green drink on my meal card, in the hopes that, if I need it, someone will make a Fruitti's run for me.

Then I learned about my green-juicing soulmates in my group, so we made a pact that, if any one of us is allowed out and about, she will do the Frutti's run for the rest of us. See, we green juicers aren't such rare birds! Or maybe we just nest together. Either way, it rocks to be among my people.

I am just returning from my crystal bath, which involves heated crystals that clear and balance your chakras. Something definitely shifted in me - I went to the shop, and NOTHING called me to buy it. Nothing. I wasn't disappointed, either. Hmmm.

Next up is dinner, followed by a run to Frutti's to get my green juice to save for the morning (they don't open until 10 a.m. and I need it by 7), and concluding the day with the rosary.

In case I am offline tomorrow, have a wonderful, wonderful few days and I'll be back in touch when I can.

Sending love from Brazil.

Getting Settled

Our group has 17 people from all over the U.S. and Canada. There are folks from Texas, Florida, California, South Carolina and Hawaii. Three are from Canada. I'm the only one from Massachusetts. We are many races, nationalities and religions. We discussed basic things so far, such as how we got here, but not why we are here or what our particular challenges might be. We each had to write a short list of what we want from this trip (1 - 4 things) but no one asks each other about that. For those with wheelchairs or walkers, I assume they are here for something physical, though I've learned that isn't always the case. And those of us who look "normal," well, sometimes those interior challenges are even stronger than the physical. So who knows?

Everyone is in good cheer and loving and seems to know much about a variety of spiritual topics, so I'm learning alot even from that. And I'm learning more about how I am in a new group.

Last night, we took a quick tour of the Casa, which is like the headquarters of John of God. Our pousada is about 2 buildings away - insanely close, and I love that. Before we entered the gates, our guide set the context, and reminded us that we are not here alone, the we each bring spirits with us, loved relatives and friends who have passed, and spirits who are "hangers-on" who will be released during this journey. Suddenly, our little circle felt a bit crowded.

I will give more details on the Casa as I experience more of it, but for now: There are seats in various places, a small shop that sells crystals and triangles, up-to-date bathrooms (well, women's. men's is still old), a kitchen area, the building where there are healing rooms, and benches in front of an amazing view of the hills.

After that tour, we got a tour of the town where we are staying. The town is divided by a highway, and our side is tiny, one street long, with a few shops. There is a little pizza place, a juice bar (YES! A JUICE bar!!!), a place that sells natural ointments made from local herbs, and a few little shops that sell white women's clothing and some jewelry. There is an internet cafe and some dirt fields, so when the wind blows, the dirt flies.

The pizza place, where you can also drop off your laundry

Frutti's, the local juice bar and what will become my regular hangout spot

The weather has been like an LA winter - a bit chilly in the morning and evening, but warm in the daytime sun. The days are shorter because it is winter here - I miss the evening light!

This morning, I went with another member of our group to the Casa to help with soup preparation. We picked up some gloves, a peeler, a knife, a bucket of squash, and a brief demonstration from someone regarding what to do. Then we pulled up a bench and got to work.

It was like preparing for Dia de los Muertos at Tania's - BUCKETS full of vegetables to be peeled and cut, and groups of people speaking so many different languages. Next to us, for example, was a lovely group of about 10 folks from France. We were peeling and cutting outside in the fresh air and sunshine. I love that I could contribute something that I know I can do, and so much better in such a comfortable group!

After that, I sat in the meditation area facing the hills for a bit, and had the weirdest, nicest feelings in my lungs / ribs. It was a calm fullness. That is the best description I can give. Maybe I would add the word smooth.

I'm off to get some juice at the juice bar and then back to the Casa. I will post pictures after I return to the States. I remembered my camera but not the attachment to download the photos!

Love to you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Traveling to Brazil

Traveling to Brazil was, gratefully, a breeze. I wasn't sure how far I would need to walk between flights, so I dressed in my most comfy clothes: a long, flowing orange skirt, sleeveless soft t-shirt, and one of my husband's oversized cotton sweaters. Oh, yes, and purple and grey sneakers on my feet.  Not stylish, but it was an overnight flight so I figured, who cares how I look?

My husband got an upgrade to business class for me, so I settled in pretty quickly. As usual, I put all my bags under the seat in front of me. I do this because it feels like an efficient use of space, in order to save the overhead space for others who might need it more than I do, and so that everything I might possibly, conceivably want is at my fingertips. Never know when you might need sunglasses or a flashlight.

The flight attendant must have asked us three or four times to be seated so we could taxi. After each announcement, as if it were a cue, someone would get up and go to the bathroom, or open the overhead bin to retrieve an item. They weren't even rushing! I love the Latino culture. Eventually, everyone was seated, or seated enough for us to get going.

I looked around the business class cabin and realized, I was literally the ONLY one with bags under the seat. At first embarrassed by not following some unwritten rule that maybe I should have known about, I then decided that I would revel in my peasantry. I had another opportunity to strut my common stuff when the flight attendants offered tons of food during the flight. Each time, I responded, "No thank you," as I pulled various foods from my bag, including a complete macrobiotic dinner I had packed. 

When the meal service was done and we all settled in for the night, I realized why there were no bags under the seats: Each seat has FOOTRESTS that extend under the seat in front of you, so you can have your own little insta-bed! Very cool. I could skip the meals but I wasn't missing this! I pressed the button and heard the electronic whir as the footrest eased its way under the seat in front of me, cozying in with the rest of my stuff. 

Once we landed, the really handsome Brazilian gentleman next to me (wearing gorgeous dark blue jeans and nice leather shoes) asked if this was my first time in Brazil. Obvious? 

After going through customs, I waited in airport seating for the rest of my "tour group" and had the opportunity to observe all the well-dressed people in very fine, appropriate and coordinated shoes, walking by me in my orange skirt, oversized sweater, purple sneakers, and Disney-labeled luggage and handbag with Mickey ears hanging from the side. I'm not kidding. The picture-perfect American abroad.

I'm now at the hotel.

It is clean, the food is wonderful, and the people are very nice. I would love a hot-water tap in the sink and the ability to flush toilet paper, but hey, these are small things. I got a footrest!

I meet with everyone else in an hour or two for a tour of the Casa, followed by dinner and rosary. More on that later or tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrating Wellness

I appreciate all the gratitudes you are sharing with me. It is fun and energizing and I love that you have so many good things in your life. Thank you for sharing all that with me, or even just doing it on your own. Today, July 16, is officially the last of the 50-day celebration and it has been so fun to be partying with you! 

If you sent money to Dana Farber (or anywhere else on my behalf) and I did NOT send a thank you note to you, please let me know. It just means that they didn't make the connection. 

It has been fabulous to enjoy summer without doing chemo. I still go to Dana Farber once a month to get my port flushed. (I have a power port in my chest, which we use for anything for which you would normally use a vein. They flush it to keep it clean and clear.)

This past Tuesday was my port-flush day, but before going to Dana Farber, I went rowing, had lunch, and glanced at the New York Times. The front page showed a story about a woman with cancer in her retina, and she had to have her eye removed. One of my children looked at the post-op photo of her eye and asked me what someone would look like if they took out your eye. I don't know much about eyes, couldn't tell much from the photo, so our discussion was brief, and I headed out to DFCI.

While waiting for the elevator at DFCI, I started chatting with the woman standing next to me. She seemed to be about 65 years old, stood 5 feet tall, and had a slender build. As we spoke, I noticed her eyeglasses. The right lens was clear but the left lens appeared cloudy, like it needed a good cleaning. When she turned her head to look at the elevators, I suddenly saw behind her glasses and noticed that there was skin covering the spot where her eye once was. I guess our questions generated by the NYTimes news story were answered.

Going to a place like Dana Farber provides constant reminders of the many ways to have cancer. Of course, there are a myriad of other ways to be sick, too.

The flip side of this is that there are a myriad of ways to be well. Every patient I meet, who isn't exhausted beyond all belief, is pleasant, friendly and interesting. One told me her story about having lung cancer for the past five years. She was in her late sixties but looked at least 10 years younger and had a tough, street-smart way about her, like she would take crap from no one. Aside from cancer, she carried a toughness and optimism that many would envy.

Another woman had ovarian cancer and was off and on chemo as needed while enjoying her retirement and time with her husband and grandchildren. She had a joyous air about her, as if this were a visit to the dentist, an inconvenience in an otherwise pleasant day.

And the woman with one eye appears to focus on what she can see, rather than on what she can't.

All of these women, and so many others getting treatment, may be ill in some ways but well in so many others. They have a sense of humor, the ability to connect with others, appreciate nature, or share a cheerful word. We are each dealing with something and it is so easy to have that take over our lives, at least for me. 

However, meeting all these folks reminds me that we are well in more ways than we are not-well. Their good health is contagious, and instead of being depressed by their illness, I walk away buoyed by what is well and strong in them. It carries not only them, but me as well. 

I hope that you are able to find someone who generously shares their cheer and positive vibes, and that you always feel the good in your life and the ways in which you are strong and well. And that will be contagious, too!

Thank you again for your continued prayers as they carry me through the summertime, and sending much love and gratitude your way,