Portals to ALL ONE!


Recently I connected with a another blogger, after words on her blog sparked a chord within me. She got me to thinking about how our actions and choices and approaches impact others – often inadvertently. Arriving at work today, still thinking about her post, a convertible pulled up beside me with the radio blaring, it was the Animals;

“But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”

It could not have been a more perfect message from the Universe. Her piece speaks to how we each approach our life in the way that makes sense to us, including our life with cancer as a companion. She articulated how it sometimes creates barriers between people who have different approaches. It was a call for non judgement, and to noticing how different approaches may serve others, even when they don’t serve us. (You can read her post here.)

“Be with those who support your being.”
Rumi  (As told to me by Pamala Truzinski, Midwife)

It is a beautiful thing when you meet someone, even via the inter webs, who has some alignment with your experience.  It can be powerfully good medicine to feel understood.  But does someone having a different approach need to be kryptonite to whichever super power we have found to help us on our trip? It can be difficult to hang out with people who have taken a different path. It can seem like their experience is somehow invalidating our own. This inner story of judgement can become so big that it may lead to the end of a relationship. Or even worse, as the Orlando shooting demonstrated. We can develop an intolerance to other perspectives so severe that we either avoid or lash out when faced with  our percieved other.

“Baby, sometimes I’m so carefree
With a joy that’s hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that all I have do is worry
Then you’re bound to see my other side”

The blogger, whose cancering is centered in her brain, has had an experience somewhat different than mine, however we seem to share a certain commitment to choosing happiness. I have struggled a lot with guilt about focusing on positivity during my journey. As though I was taking the unfair advantage if I was happy while cancering, if others could not be. Which is a bit ironic. Some of my mixed feelings have been directly related to having a friend who was handling her similar diagnosis in a very different way. It was difficult for me to be with her, and it turned out that it was equally difficult for her to be with me, and so we parted ways.

Seems to me that each time we make a choice, or have an experience, especially a traumatic one, it is like walking through a portal. Like joining an exclusive club with each life experience. Which has got me thinking about the many portals I have walked through.

  • I was born through the portal of being a white woman
  • Which is related to being the tenth of ten children
  • Growing up within a rural farm community
  • Becoming the child of divorced parents portal
  • The student council president portal
  • The community Theater Portal (I received my first kiss on stage at a practice for a community play.)
  • The love nature portal
  • The vegetarian portal
  • The bike culture – no car cult
  • The privilege portal of  a university education, which I did by working my way through college
  • The fiber arts secret society of weavers
  • The Art degree club
  • Paying off student loans gate
  • Then there is the get married portal
  • The buy a house portal
  • The home birth club
  • Which leads of course, to the parenting portal
  • The raising boys gate
  • The learn to drive and get a car portal
  • The NVC portal (Non Violent Communication training)
  • The start my own business portal
  • The three funerals in three months club
  • The parenting a boy who wore dresses for most of his childhood portal
  • The homeschool portal
  • The make payroll portal
  • The worker coop portal
  • The get up ungodly early for work portal – A club also inhabited by midwives, dairy farmers and fisherman
  • Organizing huge public events portal
  • The ten funerals in ten years club
  • The keep chickens portal
  • The breast cancer diagnosis portal
  • The neoadjuvant chemo portal
  • The use Chinese medicine portal
  • The Bernie Siegel Gate
  • The HER2+ portal
  • The single mastectomy portal
  • The pCR portal
  • The no breast reconstruction portal
  • The lymphedema portal (Lymphedema-Lite version)
  • The meditation practice portal

You get the picture. If I could only hang out with people who have had a parallel life experience I would be sunk. There wouldn’t be anyone to hang out with. Which is why it is so great to realize that community is not based on everyone being the same, it is based on connecting in those places we do have commonalities.  But sometimes my best intentions don’t work out so well. Sometimes people are not in a place to understand where I am coming from, and sometimes I am not in the place to dig deeper to understand where another person is coming from. Sometimes I have written people off. I can blame it on the portals I have walked through, or I can take responsibility for my actions, and the outcome of my interactions without assigning blame. There are always options.

All One! Or NONE!
In Lak’ech Ala K’in is a Mayan concept that translates as “I am another you.” There is an understanding that we are all mirrors for each other, that each face you look into is another face of the divine.  I once read that the ancient Celts had a greeting that meant “I salute you as a free person.” Which recognized the free essence within each person.  Namaste is a Hindu greeting that acknowledges the divine spark within the person being greeted. Islam is based on the concept that we are all one. A concept recognized by the famous Dr. Bronner, whose soap proclaims it. Christianity teaches that we are all the children of God. The Buddhist Bodhisattvas vow to remain on the earthly plain until all beings are enlightened. And the Hawaiian concept of Aloha can be described as, being part of all, and all being part of me. Clearly the interconnectedness of all life is an understanding reached by many, if not all cultures. What happens when we look at the world through the oneness gate?

Can we look past the differences? The divisive atmosphere of America right now, if not the world, relies on our participating in judging and rejecting each other. Of only associating with those who have walked through our carefully cultivated set of portals. It seems to me to be a delicate balance between both being with those who support your being, and finding ways to connect despite differences. This is sometimes difficult to say the least, but the payoff for opening our hearts is great.

Perhaps the most powerful opportunity for healing lies in being fierce in the belief that everyone is eligible for compassion, because everyone is just another me. Or perhaps the Animals got it right in 1965, and we just need to pray to be understood. Perhaps both. Regardless I am quite curious if this has sparked any thoughts in others. I am thirsty to hear what portals have shaped your life. Please feel free to comment.


Don’t let me be Misunderstood – the Animals

“Baby, do you understand me now
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But don’t you know that no one alive
Can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
Baby, sometimes I’m so carefree
With a joy that’s hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that all I have do is worry
Then you’re bound to see my other side
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
If I seem edgy I want you to know
That I never mean to take it out on you
Life has it’s problems and I get my share
And that’s one thing I never meant to do
Because I love you
Oh, Oh baby don’t you know I’m human
Have thoughts like any other one
Sometimes I find myself long regretting
Some foolish thing some little simple thing I’ve done
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice post. I think we have had very different life experiences,(though there are some parallels) and somewhat different approaches to our cancer experiences, but I chose to follow you because there was something in your blog that spoke to me. I think it was the idea that despite all the things that we have no power or control over, it is worth seizing on the things we do have control over. Even if we are working in the margins and the small print of our lives, these things matter and can make a massive difference. I started off looking for someone “like me”,but actually I have been amazed at the connections I have made with people who are not “like me” at all.

    1. Iridacea says:

      Thank you so much for following me, I have been enriched by your blog as well. And thank you for bringing your voice to the comments. I am finding that as I transition from simply reporting on my status, to writing for more complex reasons, the two way opportunity of comments becomes more meaningful.
      Though I have been blogging a couple of years, I only figured out the reader function this summer, and since have been finding this amazing treasure of story. Happening upon universal truths in places I wouldn’t have expected, has been very compelling. It is also helping me understand some different perspectives that are really in my blind spot. Their words shining a flashlight.
      Thank you for shining a light and for reaching out.
      Xo Iris

  2. I am beyond honored that my words had such an affect and resonated so deeply with you. We write for ourselves, but I think we also write with a hope that we will connect with others – that our words may bond us, heal us, make us laugh or cry, etc. even if it is over this crazy Internet world.
    Your piece is beautiful and of course, it resonates with me as well.
    I really look forward to sharing our pieces and continuing to learn from one another.

    1. Iridacea says:

      Thank you for your post! I am so wishing I had figured out the whole reader thing before this summer, and so glad I finally have! It is very wonderful to be able to connect to the collective stories. I have felt like my writing is a spell to help me better understand myself, and finding myself entranced by the writing of others in the same way.

  3. Here are my portals:
    –Passive reader of the pookablog, hardly ever replying but enjoying the entries immensely and gaining insights through them
    –Southerener/East Texan, never proud of my roots, escaping as soon as I could get it together to move from that macho area with a history of being on the wrong side of the Civil War
    –Half-watered-down Jew/half redneck, both parents from rural Louisiana
    –Surpassingly shy teenager and young man, determined not to let that quality limit my experience and my happiness
    –Graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors in English
    –Hippie in the late 60s in Austin, never a heavy drug user but a partaker in LSD a few times and marijuana for a while until I decided I was allergic to it and smoking it to be cool, when I could be cool without smoking it
    –Conscientious objector to the Viet Nam war, allowing that status to motivate me to move to the Bay Area for alternate service, from which I never looked back
    –Hippie in Oakland, redefining myself as living an alternative lifestyle, drop-out as much as possible in the Nixon years
    –Gay man, emerging from the closet in the early 70s, becoming an immediate activist and social service provider to fellow gay men
    –Gay men’s “rap” (talking in a group) collective member in the early 70s
    –Cooking collective member, providing meals for seniors in the mid-70s
    –Registered nurse beginning in 1977
    –AIDS activist in multiple ways in the 80s, 90s, and “aughts” — getting the word out to fellow gays about prevention, counseling and testing, helping to establish and run one of the first needle-exchange programs in the world — in Portland, treating end-stage patients in their home settings, being a buddy to several people with AIDS who needed a witness/listener when the rest of the world seemed to be ignoring them or trashing them, being part of buddy-trainings, offering trainings for caregivers, working as night nurse in a residential hospice for patients with AIDS
    –Cancer survivor (and thriver), with incurable multiple myeloma, diagnosed as end-stage in 2005
    –Hospice patient in 2005, with expectation of 3-6 months to live
    –Sufferer through many chemotherapy treatments
    –Stem-cell transplant patient for three weeks in 2012, during which it felt like rehearsal for death
    –Ten-year survivor in August, 2015
    –Writer of several novels and a few poems and short stories, two of which (short stories) have been published
    –Quilter of many child-sized quilts for VOCA camps (for abused children) and for newborns of my friends and neighbors
    –Quilter of queen-sized quilts for friends and family members
    –Traveler as often and as long as possible
    –Friend, partner, observer, human

    Iris, I hope you keep the blog going and available. I admit that I have consumed it without giving you feedback, which I apologize for. I know, as a writer myself, that having a readership is crucial to wanting to continue putting yourself out there and putting in the effort to produce something of value and inspiration. Thank you for your explorations of ideas and for the care which you use to present them to your readers and the faith you showed when you weren’t sure how many of us there were and who we are. I’m glad you’re doing so well, enough so that you question whether you should continue a blog that started out as updating people as to your well-being. I think it has been, indeed, instrumental in your well-being. But I support your moving on, if that feels right to you.
    David Bennett

    1. Iridacea says:

      Oh David thank you so much for naming some of your portals! Yea on 10 years! That makes me deeply happy. What an amazing life of compassion and loving service.

      I have been so blessed to have you in my life, including being the lucky recipient of a quilt ( two if I count the one Martin got from the exhibit to support VOCA at the Scorcher.) I would say that a small gate might be having helped the Scorcher Coop through a difficult transition, an act that very much influenced the outcome of that project. Namely by helping us face our shadows and move ahead despite them. Thank you again for your mediation work with us, it has had lasting benefit beyond what you might know. I miss seeing you at the Scorcher, and making you cardamom rolls.

      Thank you for the encouragement, I will keep spilling out words.
      So much love!

      1. And thanks back to you for your good wishes and praise.

        I wonder if I could send you the “book” (prose-poem? Novella in poetic rendition? I’m not sure what to call it) that I am workshopping in a critique group and scrubbing vigorously. I’m on like the nineteenth draft. It starts out in a way you might not enjoy, defeated by cancer, ready to give up after being abused so much, by cancer and by chemo and other treatments. (Sorry for not using the verb form of cancer.) He is seeking assisted suidice drugs without telling anyone except his doctor (of course, he has to) and the second-opinion doc who must rule that his is not operating out of depression and that he can make and communicate health decisions for himself, as the law requires. He goes through stuff with his partner of 20 years, his partner’s sister, a Hodgkin’s researcher on Sabbatical, and his partner’s 12-year-old nephew, whom they are keeping several months while the folks are at Sloan-Kettering. There is a sudden twist toward the end which throws vastly different light on the subject of life and meaning and being yourself. (I think you will like that part — how it ends, how it resolves.)

        I know it’s hard to say no to an offer like that, so I’ll also say that you needn’t read it if you don’t get into it, you are under no obligation to tell me anything , such as that you read it, liked it or didn’t, have feedback about it or not. Of course, the more critique I get, the better I can make it, but I have those people already whose offer is to critique it (as long as I critique their stuff, and I really just want to share (as all but the most to-themselves writers do) what I have committed to be saved by my computer.

        Spike said it took her about an hour to read and she didn’t give me more than a few sentences, so she took me seriously in not feeling obligated to put lots of thought and effort in poring over it.

        The main obstacle for you, I’d guess, is finding the time to read it. (It might slow you down.)

        Thanks for thinking about it. Much love to you too and gratitude for the words that seem to be pouring out of you now.


      2. Iridacea says:

        I would very much love to read it! What a gift you are offering.
        I sometimes think that stories are more like spirits that we care for than something we create. There is no end to the adjustments that might be made.
        Please do send me a copy.

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