Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Suleika, I’ve been following you since I first read Between Two Kingdoms and introduced it to my neighborhood book club in Hudson Wisconsin, a little river town a bridge-length from Minnesota, my home state. So, it’s about time I left a comment for you. Your writings inspire me, and each Sunday morning I smile as I open your email. I know pearls of inspiration and hope await. Today’s repeat journal entry was no exception, and as usual, I can relate to your words—especially as a cancer survivor. I too, remember the heightened sense of mortality that was followed by greater feelings of love and connectedness. I saw these feelings as God gifts, and also part of my therapy that lifted me to a higher level of peace and hope. So once again, you touched my heart and soul on an early Sunday morning. Thank you for all you do for all of us! You’ve created a circle of love amongst so many people that continues to grow, and then nurture others. Wishing you and Jon continued love, joy, peace, and health.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt

What Would I Do Without You?

Bittersweetness of the swell of first love and a heart broken open left in shattered pieces that are scattered still.

Your face, those dark, deep set eyes which stare into mine, plead with me to look into yours, abandoning all "To Dos" in favor of shared time, my dearest daughter.

My nomadic life, leaving me reeling, shaking, soaring, scared, seeking, and always striving for more.

Our sweet, spicy Tortie, Abby Rhodes, whose little body contains the spirit of lions, reminding me to lounge in the sun, moving as it moves, seeking company when wanted, and cocooning alone when needed.

My little students, all of them (some of whom are now in their 40's), who have each taught me to be humble, to embrace chaos, to laugh with abandon always, to reflect, to cry, to savor, to move on, and to create, always.

What Would I Do Without You sweet Earth? You have been my constant in an ever changing life. My bare feet feel blessed as I squish my toes in your mud, plunge my hands into Spring soil, marvel at shoots and roots, and hold you as sacred.

Suleika and Carmen, my deepest thanks to you both for the call back to self today. May you each feel appreciated and loved in the lows and the highs.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Today's post and prompt was just what I needed. My bestie of 25 years has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast Ca, something that came out of the blue. Offering what i wrote for her, and with much gratitude for what you bring to all of us Suleika and Carmen.

It is not yet in the past tense. I don’t have a clue what I will do next. She just sent me the reports. It is stage four. It’s not a video game, higher stages are never good news. Somehow, there is a shower of ‘lytic lesions’ in the spine. Sounds poetic, alliterative. Like ‘sibilant silence’. If it’s a poem, then it’s one that you have to look away from, and can’t read again because it takes your breath away. I let my mind drift to last night. She had walked in late, and looked for me in the crowd. She caught my eye and I saw her trying to stifle a giggle because we had worn the same red dress. We are like that, we laugh easily when we are together. We don’t need to watch stand up because life is absurd enough to make us both laugh till our bellies ache and tears stream down our faces. I look at my phone, at her message. I try to feel something but my mind is habituated to doing. I hear my meditation teacher’s voice ‘Don’t just do something, sit there’. Be still. Notice your body. Heart racing – check, sinking feeling in the pit of stomach – check. Hello anxiety my old friend. But my brain, it has a mind of it’s own. It runs through a to do list and a rolodex of oncologist friends. It tries to remember the prognosis for bone metastasis and plans the visit to see her. And then my body is with her too. It doesn’t happen often – mind and body at the same place at the same time. I see her hazel eyes looking at me brimming with questions and fear, I feel her soft, perfectly manicured hand in mine, and I hear the whirring of the air conditioner in her room. The familiar smell of prawn patio she’s just made wafts into the room. I am fully present with her, for her.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Dearest Suleika,

I was in the room adjacent to yours in MSKCC two years ago! We smiled to one another in the hallway a time or two, and we are both patients of Dr G!

I’ve been so pleased and impressed to realize who you are through the Facebook group and then by reading your books.

Wow, we went through such a life-altering process and this is your second!

I wish we had talked two years ago, but we both had so much happening at that time! I did love seeing musical instrument cases outside your room. Once I knew who you were, it all made sense that Jon was there.

My second re-birthday is Feb 15. I’m so happy for YOU today, and for what you have done so far in your life!

I follow you on social media and cheer for you in all ways. You are an incredible artist and writer.

It is my honor to have gone through our 2022 transformations at the same time in adjacent rooms, looking out our windows to the east, hoping to continue to experience this wild and crazy world (thank you Mary Oliver)

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Good morning and thank you Suleika and Carmen. What a beautiful prompt. Not to be cliche but love is just what the World needs more of right now. I was watching Lessons in Chemistry and the main character feels restrictive in giving love. Another character points out “love is not finite”. I think love expands. The more you emit the more it lightens everyone and everything around us. It’s so easy. So why is it so hard?

The painting of Melissa is so beautiful and haunting. She’s as beautiful as she was described in Between Two Kingdoms”.

My loves?

I love the birds that come to my feeders. I visualize love as light expanding out and encompassing them. I send “I love you” by thought and intent. This love expands to all of nature. From the crawly critters to the apex predators. To the plants and water and atmosphere.Every thing that lives needs love.

My dogs are my loves. There isn’t a minute of any day that I don’t think of them. All my animals that are now in the Summerland are still loved everyday. I miss them still. All animals have always been so important to me.

My late Mom is always in my heart. Our relationship was complicated and acrimonious. We loved greatly and hated furiously. We fought, butted heads and were best friends. She could sometimes be my greatest advocate and my worst advisory. When my depression was so bad I couldn’t get out of bed she would rally me to get out and do things. I miss that friendship. In get last years I was my mom’s caregiver. I sometimes think she stayed longer on this Earth because she was worried about leaving me alone.

I love the ocean. The water calls me. I’m a Cancer and the moon and the water feels like home to me. I love water.

I love random strangers. Someone on Facebook posted that her Mom was having health issues. When I was drifting off to sleep I pictured this lady (Kathy) surrounded by light, love and healing. I loved Suleika when I saw her on Sunday Morning. It was after Jon’s Grammy wins and I was so in awe oh Jon’s humbleness and light. And then I saw Suleika and I really cared. I really worried for the beautiful brilliant stranger. My hen I found Between Two Kingdoms and found this wonderful Isolation Journals. I love the weekly prompts and reading what all the amazing members have to say. This group is just fabulous and I love you all.

There is so much unrest in the world right now. It breaks my heart. It all weighs on me and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Maybe if we all collectively send love and light out there it can grow and make a difference. Even if it’s just a drop to start and someone else expands on that drop we can make an ocean of love. I believe love will heal the hurt.

Everyone have a blessed lovely day. ❤️🪶

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Love is. (Period)

No words.

No chasing

No clinging.

It is above.

It is below.

It is within.

It is without.

Be still.

It will alight upon you

like a butterfly

to a flower.

Choose it.

Allow it.

Live it.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

A Taxonomy of love how glorious! My kitty Olympia who snuggles and knows exactly the time we come to bed. My kind pup Bodhi who warms every heart that he meets. The evergreens in pots that I touch gratefully in the morning. Friends here my neighbor Jeanette who has been so kind, Catherine who never forgets our meeting as waitresses at Loops. My second cousin Gail whose politics are opposite of mind but it does not matter, Anderson Cooper for sharing his grief so kindly, the first time that I saw my daughter at the orphanage-capturing, Dr. Ian Canino who supervised me at Enistein-so many my brother David-- and the history of those gone who light my life-Roy, Bonnie, Fred, Mario, Joey.. my mother.....I love the weekly Isolation Journal prompts.. and so as ever I love plants, animals and living things.. and I am so grateful to have a home with compassion for those that do not.. sigh.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

You all write such beautiful words, especially you, Suleika, that fill my heart with joy. I was in such despair last week, I couldn’t read or comment here. I have been in and out of the hospital so much since last Thanksgiving, then seeing doctor after doctor. Finally I feel like I’m making progress. I am home and only seeing one doctor and only taking a few medications.

My loves, at the top of the list is my husband. We have been married almost 15 years now. I am 76, so he is obviously not my first, but definitely my last. I can’t imagine my life without him. My daughter and his daughter were best friends and they introduced us, 18 years ago. We were together 3 years before deciding to marry. My son and daughter are my best accomplishments in life. I am so proud of the adults that they have become. And because of them, I have grandchildren and great grandchildren. I have been blessed with siblings and very dear friends. I was not blessed with talent, for painting, crafts etc. But a dear friend told me once that I was the most compassionate person, she had ever met. I’ll take it.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

Thank you for the gift of love you give as you share your journey. And I am thankful, too, for all those who love & support you as you decide what and when and how to open your life to others. For me, love for one of my sons who passed away in 2020 is teaching me, shaping me. I am experiencing the truth that love is stronger than death in that my gratitude for his life, his beautiful spirit, his art that is everywhere in my home, his cat that is now mine somehow holds me up and grows even stronger in my grief. Love endures. Love knows the value of the beloved, regardless. Love gently tethers me to life.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

In this Sunday morning's stillness, reading your words Suleika and that of others, I am feeling my heart open in ways I so often do when ingesting the writings of everyone. Everyone's stories touch me in a way that often surprises and awakens me in a manner that catches me off-guard. These stories and responses soften the edges around my heart and allow me to feel things I've protected for years. Thankyou to all.

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Feb 11·edited Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

LOVE - and its many forms. We can feel these forms every day and walk by not recognizing them until prompted, by someone like Suleika and Carmen! I think of the love I have for my adult children. They are my greatest gifts and I feel particularly blessed...just as most mothers do, I'm sure. I often think I need to eat better and exercise more so I can stay on this planet longer for them. Then there's my husband. Most days I look at him from across the room and my heart sings and I think about how I almost lost him in 2006 from a massive heart attack but here he is! I will look at him and say, "We're in the same building!" He laughs and we walk across the room and hug. I think both of us almost losing the other one to significant health issues has bonded us even more. We celebrate our thirtieth this summer. Then there's love for friends, love for people in general, and yes...love for nature (which is very alive and I believe able to communicate...filled with God's spirit). Last night I was very irritable. My husband was reciting the latest news from across the world and my stomach was upset from dinner. I had to put a television on pause a few times when he began talking and I felt intruded upon. I snapped at him. Then I went to bed, lay there and thought about my love for him and how I would feel if he suddenly disappeared, and I got up and apologized and we walked across the room and hugged. You are so right...when we become much more aware of our mortality, like when we are very ill, love expands...becomes more of a companion...and a comfort. It's a wonderful gift.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

What Would I Do Without You?

If love were chocolate

My Mom is the bon bon made of milk chocolate , and a maraschino cherry inside. Old fashioned, sweet, and ever present. Even though Dad has been gone for awhile now, he was the perfect match, but a complementary flavour - a maple walnut. My parents have always given their love and support freely.

My four kids are the greatest blessings I ever could have imagined. Like a mini assorted box.of goodness.

Connor, who just turned 31 - a passionfruit cayenne chocolate bonbon. Vivacious, supportive, emotional.Sean, an ovaltine chocolate bonbon.He has a love for all things vintage, including his Mom - ever thoughtful and caring. Ned is almost 18, and ready to head out to university in the fall. He is a chili and lime chocolate. Spicy and sweet. And sweet Jill, is most definitely a milk chocolate truffle, or more specifically 10 milk chocolate truffles. Caring, funny, and a deep listener.

Music is the centre of my life. I teach high school students Band and I write and perform. The thousands of students that I have taught over 27 years are like a Hershey’s Kiss. They are pick-me-up. Good energy. Fun. Ready to try.

My anchor, my husband Tom, is a bit harder to pin down. Tom is his own box of chocolates. He’s chocolate with bacon, chocolate with cherry, and a dark chocolate bar for health. He’s my biggest fan and supporter. He’s my ever present sounding board. The love of my life.

My Funny Valentine.

Grateful for them all.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

“What is this Love, that loves us?”

I heard this several years ago but did not track its’ source. It has stayed with me and works in tandem with another quote, also author-less:

“ Don’t fall in. My heart is huge”.

There is a Love, stronger than anything in the world. Stronger than hate, stronger than war. It is strong enough that a person would lay down their life for another. By donating all or parts of themselves ( soldiers, first responders, every day heroes among us, a kidney, bone marrow❤️). By laying down their pride, their own hurt, by being vulnerable in the hope and desire for wholeness.

This love loves us. Loves us with abandon. This Love loves me and leaves me broken and blessed. It is in the air I breathe, the music I hear, the river beyond the trees that rushes after a storm. It is diamonds in a snowfall, colors in the sky, dandelions in February.

I am loved. I am enough. How do I know? I know because despite heartache and loss and brokenness, JOY survives.

What is this Love, that loves me?

The world. This beautiful world. You, your stories, “ The Real Housewives of Chemotherapy”, ( Suleika, I laughed so hard!)

A text from a granddaughter on my birthday that read,” Nanna, I love you so much!” Oh, the tears!!!

Love is the knowledge that all will be well, as Julian of Norwich said.

It is the beautiful humility of Tracy Chapman singing “ Fast Car” at the Grammy’s. So present. No flash. No theatrics. Just a heart revealing a story of struggle and hope.

And always and forever, Love is

a dog named Jagr, who saves me, and that daily.

Fall into love, my friends. Happiest of Sunday to you all.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

Love for me is a decision even in the darkest season to stay open and accepting to the light in myself and in my fellows. What would I do without that willingness? It changes everything.

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

Your words resonate with me so very much, Suleika. I had two stem cell transplants for multiple myeloma and lymphoma in 2019, and I have been trying to live the best I can in the in-between ever since. Your writing helps me frame how I feel and makes me feel so much less alone. Thank you and sending much love to you and yours❤️

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Feb 11Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

Create an inventory of your loves—whoever breaks you open, whatever animates your life.

My two year old granddaughter, Juniper Faye, is the newest love of my life. She is my kaleidoscope, my telescope, my microscope - I see the world anew through her sweet, passionate eyes.

My wife, who also happens to be my best friend from high school. Our love is a practical safety net and a vivacious joy all at once.

My daughters who reflect back to me who I am, good and bad. My love for them is deep and strong, like no other.

A different love has entered my life - the love for my deceased daughter, Anjelica. This love prickles and burns, bringing me to my knees as well as comforts and soothes, depending on the day. She is my angel, and walks beside me always. She passed away two rooms down from Suleika on February 13, 2022.

My love for this group, for all of you - this love is a warm, Sunday morning nest where I feel validated and safe to share all my joys and my pains.

My love of nature. It is more vibrant and powerful than ever at this time in my life. The cycle of life that grounds me and reminds me who I am. I am humbled in nature's presence, and inspired by it's never ending beauty and mystery.

I love so many and so much - this list could go on and on. Thank you, Suleika, for this wonderful prompt this morning! And thank you all for sharing from the heart!

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