The last week has been so very beautiful. I hope that all of you have been soaking up sun or taking tree baths. (Tree baths are a Japanese idea of hanging out with trees as a healing modality – basically walking amongst trees breathing the air made by trees.) A year ago this week, the Family Daire loaded up for our first vacation in 8 years. We drove down the Oregon Coast to the Redwoods, and came home via Crater Lake and Central Oregon. It was three weeks of Bliss. We drank up nature and each other with an enthusiastic thirst.
Our appreciation for each other was very high, we laughed, hiked, discussed everything, and studied the ecology of all the places we visited. We cooked great meals along the way in the VW’s little kitchen. We included wild foods that we foraged whenever we could, for instance making Nettle soup, and a Chickweed & Miner’s lettuce salad. We studied herbs – keying them out on our walks and reading about them at night. Our herbal first aid kit, which we had spent the winter making, soothed all our minor scrapes and maladies. One day we gathered mugwort, which we dried on the dashboard for the remainder of our trip. The mugwort gave all of us vivid dreams, which we discussed over homemade cappuccino and hot cocoa in the mornings while still snuggled into our bunks.
I am so glad we took the trip, especially knowing now what this year holds. It is probably the one grand vacation of our life together as a family. Sam was nearly tall enough to put his chin on my head, and Martin was just short enough still for me to rest my chin on his head. A transient moment.
The Japanese have a term for death by overwork – it is what happens when a person works long hours for extended periods of time without taking time off. Joe and I vowed on the redwood trip to make changes in our life and to work less. However, right when we returned from the trip, three full time bakers gave notice for different reasons – which meant that Joe and I spent the summer working 40-60 hours between Saturday and Tuesday at the bakery, and then Wednesday through Friday working on the Svensen Project with my Brother Tom. We met our goal, by getting the second floor built, the roof on and windows installed by October, but it was an exhilarating and exhausting horse race.
This year as I take time off from work to heal from cancer-ing and the treatments, I have been reflecting a lot on how work impacts health and wellbeing. Even if you love something it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Taking a camping vacation is such an opportunity to explore what is really important. It winnows away all the distractions and leaves just the essentials. After meeting your basic needs for food and shelter, you have time to just BE, with yourself, and with the loved ones you have with you. It gives you perspective on how precious life is.
This weekend we camped out at Svensen. Joe and I slept in the VW and the Boys slept in the upstairs of the house – which is still just a big box. Our plans to spend the winter working on the interior were obviously supplanted by this Pooka ride. It was wonderful to hang out around the fire looking at the stars and the nearly full moon. A neighbor out there has Guinea Fowl, whose meowing cries lend an exotic quality to the neighborhood. Taking a bit of time “away”- even just to Svensen, gave me a bit of a chance to recapture some of the perspective from the redwood trip. As I enter into these last two weeks prior to my surgery I feel called to more contemplation, and more time in nature.
Joe and I went into Portland this past week for three appointments, first visiting the beautiful Hai Shan Clinic in Corbett for my new pre-surgery TCM formula, and then into the city to gather information on my next steps with a surgeon, and the radiation oncologist. Lots to think about. The changes to my supplements and formulas from both Dr. Allderdice and Dr. Metro are geared towards detoxing my body, supporting my body during surgery and recovery, and to trying to suppress metastasis. Cancer-ing cells are dangerous not so much because of their enthusiastic growing problem, as for their tendency towards wanderlust. Surgery stirs things up, and can actually promote future metastasis. This makes for a vulnerable period in the cancer-ing journey. It also is why they usually place chemo treatments post surgery. To “clean up any stray cancer cells.”
I am feeling good about my chances of living a long life post treatments without reoccurrence – and reassured by the actions I am taking with the help of my complementary medicine team. Even though I have a crazy number of pills (43!!!) to take every day – plus drinking my little espresso cups of what we affectionately call swamp tea. The number of supplements will be way less crazy after surgery.
I am feeling the effects of the gentle detox agents – which make me a bit more bleary than I was prior to starting, luckily not so bleary that I can’t go outside. Joe and I took a loop walk at dawn today. All our favorite birds were there with us. I realized while walking that anytime I started to think about the future or the past I missed a section of the walk. When I concentrated on observing nature I felt much more fully present and calm. So spending time outside seems to be just what I need.
For now I will retreat into the beauty that surrounds me here at the mouth of the Columbia River – with gratitude for the incredible trip we took a year ago. May the call of the wild bring you a tree bath or two in the coming days.