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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

I'm near eighty and it is different, no midpassage here , no summer forests , no slow dreaming, only the autumn leaves falling at the end of life. But yet the seeds of life have been sown , for all this time, and now the reaping of love that was given even in the face of tragedy and turmoil, gratitude even when dreams were slashed to the very core , and overcoming life's Leaves that never were unfurled, I have reaped what I have given and I rest knowing that one little thing

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Three weeks from tomorrow I start a six week journey to Spain to hike the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. The Camino Francés. During that time I will celebrate the two year birthday of my grandson Evan and, on the same day, my two year anniversary of being diagnosed with CML, a treatable and incurable form of leukemia. This two year journey has taken me to the very core and to the very edges of myself, I have worked hard to recover from illness, recover myself, I’ve peeled back the layers, stripped away all the unnecessary debris of a life lived in chronic stress and people pleasing. My goal each day on the Camino is to get up and walk, it’s going to be that simple.

It feels like a big reset button, as though I have taken the time needed to make the changes to my hard drive and now I get to rest and walk, rest and walk, then come back and see how the changes I have made inform my life moving forward and what’s next for me as I reach 60.

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This quite so powerful that you chose Suleika: : “I wanted success violently. But my ability just wouldn’t back me up. It just insisted on moving more slowly. And, in retrospect, I have to say I’m really grateful for that.” Lover this! If we’re fortunate illness will bring us grace, and force us to be in the present moment without expectations. That’s usually lifelong work and many of us don’t get it until illness strikes. For years living with so much pain in my body it forced me to stay present. I could not escape except thru drugs, but it’s been important to me to have clarity and not forget I’m in the present moment and whatever dreams, projects, passions or have will have to be taken slowly one day at a time and for me I only have this moment to be present with, because I’m in the land of uncertainty. Many of us, myself included, have this idea of what our life should be, and guess what, it ain’t going to happen that way and the idea takes away from the present moment--our life! Grace comes with the acceptance of my life as it is, alongside letting go of expectations, which is a hard one, I’m still working on. Suleika your illness, as you know, doesn’t define you, and as much as your challenges has forced you to let go of expectations, you still soar and are always inviting us and inspiring us to walk along or crawl if we have to soar with you on this journey called life. This is what arose in me this am with this prompt. May I visualize walking hand in hand with each of you into the unknown which is called life and do it with a sense of love, many times fear, and the wonder of curiosity, and may the path I walk be consistent letting go of expectations. Nothing like sitting here in the dark, at 5am in NYC and writing from my heart that is full of love.

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

I moaned out loud when I read Ashleigh’s prompt. There is a before and after. This community gives me words and Hope as I define it. I struggled with the anniversary of my son’s death this week- a beautiful soul who died at age 24 as the result of landlord neglect in NYC. Simultaneously, this week my daughter’s blood disorder became active, as we hang on every platelet count that is decreasing for no known reason I am in remission from Chronic Leukemia after 18 mos of treatment. Yet, I come here & get permission to notice the sunlight tulips, alive with its own life force, on a table before me. Keep looking friends, slow down, bring on the 30 day journal. Whatever gets you through the night. 🌷

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

I’m sneaking up on my 68th birthday in a few months, and everything’s different from this side of life. I’ve had three skin cancer surgeries, two on my back, and one on my nose that has changed the topography of the face staring back at me from the rear view mirror. I use that particular mirror metaphorically because it seems to hold all the moments of my life, up until today.

I’ve also had 1/3 of my colon removed and I feel as though I’m in a holding pattern sometimes. My face in that mirror shows the strain of the unknown and I have a few pretty impressive wrinkles. Gravity has helped itself to my body, and I know I have to obey gravity because it’s The Law. 🙂

But this morning’s lovely words from both you Suleika, and you, Ashleigh, and all of you wonderful, gentle people who have posted here, remind me that we’re all in this together. The isolation for me is self-imposed. There is no line I cannot cross should I choose to step over it, and if I feel boxed in, the box is of my own making.

Today is today, and it’s my choice to make it meaningful. When faced with seemingly insurmountable circumstances, I would say to my Grandma, “I don’t know what to do.” Her reply, “Stay where you are, or keep on going.” So here I go. . .

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

So many cities await me that i will not see-promised trips have vanished. Words actually were false-that is not my want. I have taken myself pretty darn far to Vietnam near the border of China, Central Turkey and Philadelphia. India was a dream since childhood, Tibet the Khyber Pass. As a kid, I had a globe and would point my finger and turn it to a dream. Now it is 5:30 AM in my zone and I am in bed with my kitty Olympia-she trusts and loves me-road well traveled. However, I would not mind getting that old pack out -to re-coin a cliche going "Parts Unknown"

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

After the loss of my husband a few years ago - I experienced profound dislocation, isolation. I lost my partner, my protector my purpose - I don't know who I am anymore. And yet in that 30 plus year marriage I cultivated an ability to love and feel more deeply. I know that the roots of that remain in a capacity, a potential, a possibility. I hope to see new growth.

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

I think the seeds I planted were the dozens of resumes I sent out during my recent 4 months of unemployment. Three weeks into my job (which is very busy - hiring 4 people and close to 100 resumes for those positions, in addition to learning my role) I realize how much I need to work. To have structure in my days and weeks. I don’t think I can retire unless I have the means to travel -a lot! I thought I’d never find a job being over 60, let alone one that I would love.

Mentoring is so meaningful and spending my days in an organization where “people come first” is the principal core value, I feel so very fortunate. It’s never too late to take on new challenges.

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The City of Freedom

The Seed long buried and suddenly, unexpectedly, germinating

That's what I wish for

And am afraid I will never find.

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

So true are the words written, for they come from our soul. The fingers wrapped around the pen. The hand attached. The arms connected to the body. The heart transmitting to the mind to translate the information , feeling ,release and courage into reality. To sit with , accept and carry on with love.

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I am seventy-one now, and there are decades behind me filled first with mental illness (20's-30's) after trauma and loss, and then a broken neck and subsequent pain, and then two brain surgeries. At times I have felt robbed of big chunks of my life. But I have my dreams and I still work toward them, painting every day and learning Adobe programs to become a designer. Sometimes I fear time...I won't be able to reach my dreams (!) but then I realize the gift this encumbered life has given me...I savor simple pleasures and the time I have "being" instead of "doing," and I know if I spend my days doing things that fuel my passions and give me pleasure, I have fulfilled living intentionally. To love and be loved is most important...and that I have and do daily.

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

I just wanted to say that I could relate when you wrote that you worked like you were running out of time. I came pretty close to death after an accidental sliced ovary during a routine IVF surgery resulted in massive internal bleeding. I didn’t know what I was experiencing at the time, just that I had come home from the clinic and was in increasingly acute pain, so I casually took an Uber to the nearest ER in park slope only to learn quite quickly that a great deal of my blood was free floating outside of my veins.

As I continued to lose blood- nearly half- my brain sent out a ‘you are dying- this is not a drill’ signal like my own internal fire alarm. And as I was wheeled in to emergency surgery, my mind filled with all the things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go. I didn’t want to die.

Two days after surgery I limped back to work- though my body was not ready and my stitches were too raw for real clothes. And I didn’t have to- my job is pretty flexible and it was clearly too soon- but I wanted to be alive and the only way to be alive was to scrape and claw my way to life. And then it’s a bit like momentum- you’ve just propelled yourself into life, and it’s hard to stop running.

Anyway, just wanted to say that you don’t have to feel bad for pushing yourself or not pushing yourself. You are where you are, and if you’re pushing yourself like crazy, it’s likely because you have to. There’s no comparing where you are now to where other people are. You may wish you were able to lead a ‘normal’ life, but I think now, that there’s no such thing.

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

Thank you for the lines from Gilbert. I’m pondering how most trees can only leaf gigantically after a period of winter loss. Also how my oldest child used to say the trees were “greening up.” Looking forward to April’s writing.

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Wow. At about to be 73, in the company of various uncertainties, what cities and forests await? What have my planted seeds laid in store, waiting to now burst forth? What a thing to contemplate... What an opportunity to put something in motion... intentional, purposeful, yet meandering and playful???

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I, too, had cancer--first in my 30s when pregnant, then it came back 15 years later. I feel like I have been on borrowed time and totally understand the desire for success. I have a wonderful husband and daughter. I was a teacher. I volunteer on the South Side of Chicago. I started my own Substack because writing was a dream of mine. I travel when I can. Yet, there is still that gnawing ache that it hasn't been enough, a feeling that all of the health issues I have faced are supposed to mean something more. No epiphanies here. Just an unexplainable longing and a question: Has my life mattered?

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

I read this and couldn’t help but hear the echoes of stories from people not who discovered their “slowness” was from chronic illness, but from neurodiversity. In my case, a mid-30s woman ultimately diagnosed with Autism and a dissociative disorder, I had to reach an infuriating (and eventually freeing) conclusion: I am slow, I move slowly through this world.

Whatever frenetic pace of a pretend self I had shelled inside had finally broken down, irreparable from years of performative self-abuse. Moving slowly in a world that prized the efficient initially felt like a death sentence

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