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to Julie F.

Posted by Nancy S. on 10/24/00 at 12:05 (031151)

Good morning, Julie . . . er, good afternoon. I'm in Maine, and ya, I was up early: husband snoring, cat meowing.
I was a freelance book editor for 18 years. Did you do any work on the Chicago Manual of Style, even though you were there only three years?? If so, you should be famous by now! I'm also very familiar with HarperCollins.
About five years ago I got tired of sitting, though, and started an antiques business. Got PF 1.5 years ago, and it all went downhill from there. I struggled to keep my work going but just recently closed down the business (sob, and I mean it -- I loved the work). WHEN my feet get better, I'm hoping I might still be able to go back to it part-time.
In the meantime, yep, it's back to the editing desk out in the barn. I'm burned out on it but can still do it, although pain makes my concentration not what it was. I get tired. So I'm really feeling about 22 and wondering what to do with my life.
What you're doing with 'retirement' sounds great! Your knowledge, I assume from your yoga studies, is adding a lot to this board. Thanks!
Nancy

Re: thanks, Nancy, and here's a tome.

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 03:35 (031203)

Good morning, Nancy - the next morning, I mean, and thanks for your message. While you were posting it I was driving around Central London hunting for a parking place - took me half an hour to find one, MUCH too far from where I teach - I count every unnecessary step these days. Now it's, let's see, 4 am your Maine time and I'll bet you're awake and browsing/reading/posting.

Nancy, I'm sorry you've had to close your antiques business down. Your feet WILL get better, and when they do you'll be able to return to it if you still want to. Maybe this enforced time out, and all the pain, will bear unforeseen fruit, though. What feels like an unmitigated catastrophe can work profound changes in one's life, as you probably know. Seven years ago I discovered that I had breast cancer, and I had a mastectomy. I took five months off teaching to heal and come to terms while some of my students in training took over my classes. At first I felt I was being 'stopped in my tracks' just as I'd begun my real work in life (I was 58 and it was only 3 years since I'd left publishing) but in fact it proved a watershed. It taught me a great deal, it changed me, and amongst other things it made me, I think, a more useful teacher.

When I was first diagnosed, and agonizing about 'why has this happened?' (guilt subtext: 'what have I done to cause it?') my own teacher, a wise woman, said 'It doesn't matter why. All that matters now is what you do with this experience, how you use it.' That turned the whole thing around for me. I had no idea at the time how I would use it, but what she said helped me trust that I could go through it and might someday use it well. I guess I'd say that it made me turn towards the experience, to accept and not reject it: emotionally, I mean - I had no choice otherwise, but I did have a choice about that.

I started keeping a journal, and eventually wrote a book about my experience of cancer and how one gets through that or any other kind of crisis - in my case with the help of yoga. It's not really a 'self-help' book, it's very practical, and has since helped a lot of people. I also now teach people with cancer and train teachers who want to explore this area of work. I know I would not be doing what I'm doing if I had not had cancer. I think experiences are given to us to learn from, and that our job is to figure out what the lesson is and learn it so that we can move on. I know that sounds like a platitude, and of course it can be, but having cancer proved its truth to me. It's the most difficult and painful experiences that have the most to teach us, and what we learn from from them helps others (this website is a very good example.)

(Having said that, I'm not sure yet what PF is supposed to be teaching me - patience, perhaps, and there's no doubt I need to learn THAT!)

I didn't know I was going to say all that, but there it is. Maybe it's useful to you. I was simply going to say, it's good to feel 22 with your life ahead of you. I'm glad you do. Me, I feel 27, the age at which I got married, and which my husband insisted for years I still was. He gave that up when I was about 53, but I still look younger than I am (as you do - I remember what your new PT said!) But I'm 65 nonetheless and the loss of elasticity or-whatever-it-is in my plantar fascia that has contributed to PF is the first undeniable sign of physical aging that I've had to swallow. I feel a bit stopped in my tracks again (literally this time); but, as I've said before, I'm lucky to have discovered this website so quickly and to have started dealing with it before it got bad. And it's so good, as so many have said, to be in touch with others who 'know'. Most of the people in my 'cancer class' feel that one of the most helpful things about it is learning yoga in a community in which everyone, including the teacher, has 'been through it'. It's very rewarding to teach them because they are so highly motivated to help themselves. Some come apprehensively because they partly don't want to be around others with cancer, but that quickly disappears. One new girl, who has just been diagnosed with myeloid leukemia at the age of 28, said at our first meeting on Monday 'I thought everyone would look ILL, but you all look great!' That was lovely.

This is getting far too long, but I have to confess that no, I didn't have anything to do with the Manual of Style: it was already around when I started at Chicago. I used it a lot in the work I did there, and still have an ancient copy.

Finally, I forgot to say yesterday thank you for your offer to help and advise when my Acu-Flex arrives - I'm sure I will take you up on that.

It's good to be in touch. All the best, Julie

Re: Enjoyed reading your tome

Denise E on 10/25/00 at 06:34 (031209)

Julie, What a beautifully written and inspiring posting. Enjoyed reading it this morning. The August issue of the Yoga Journal contained the stories of 5 people who were helped by Yoga during some health crisis. This issue also contains write ups on Yoga centers in London.

I guess I've enjoyed a fairly problem free and active life. This PF really got me down in the dumps. The only thing that has saved me from a major depression has been Yoga and I'm thankfull that I discovered it in 1998. Though I think I'll be at level 1 for the rest of my life. Just joking. Actually I do notice lot of improvement since I PRACTICE yoga everyday now and take 2 classes a week. It's probably my tennis game that is going down hill.

Will you have access to a computer in India. Would love to get a note from you there, sharing your experiences.

BTW, what is an ashram?

Re: thanks, Nancy, and here's a tome.

Nancy S. on 10/25/00 at 07:45 (031211)

Thanks so much for your tome, Julie! Like Denise, I found it very inspiring and thought provoking. It sounds like you used your cancer experience really really well, and I admire that a lot. My husband, a longtime Buddhist, talks with me often about being open to new paths -- and, as you say, I know this first requires accepting emotionally what my feet have done to my life. I've been working at that for a long time and some days I get good glimpses past it. They don't last for me yet, though. Maybe the final letting-go of my work is too recent; I still find myself looking back too much and not looking ahead enough -- or even sitting still with that feeling of true acceptance. Most of the big changes in my life up to this point were my choice, and I happily took on those challenges. This one wasn't my choice, and I do feel a little robbed of a new life that I loved and had worked very hard to create. At the same time, I know that feeling robbed doesn't help and that I simply have to create something new. ('Simply'!)
And I know that many on this board must go through similar experiences.
Anyway, your attitude is an inspiration, and thank you so much for posting it. I'm still learning all the time.
Hope you've found your parking space by now!
Nancy

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 15:04 (031248)

Dear Nancy

It's a real test, isn't it, having the rug pulled out from under you like that, and having to give up But I know you will get through this. Your husband is right, but I know it's hard to look forward and be open to change when you're hurting all the time. But you will. I think it really does come down to acceptance, and that doesn't mean lying down under the burden of what's happened, or turning your face to the wall, but looking at the situation as it is - accepting it, and especially accepting all the emotions that come with it - the anger, the grief, the fear, everything. It's my profound belief that acknowledgement and acceptance are the key to healing. This is really what my book is about. Maybe you'd like to read it? It's called 'A Visible Wound: A Healing Journey through Breast Cancer', and my surname is Friedeberger. It's published by Element Inc. in the States. Element in the UK have just gone into receivership, alas, but Element Inc have plenty of stock and are still selling it. If you can't get to a bookstore it's on several websites, including Amazon.

Ages ago, years and years BC (before cancer) I came across a saying that has spoken to me ever since: 'those who are healed become instruments of healing'. Well, you already are, aren't you - the most helpful on the board! I mean that - your posts are always so sensitive and good. You say that all the big changes and challenges in your life up to now have been your choice and you've met them happily. Could you look at it like this: that, having proved yourself up to all that, you were ready for a bigger challenge, a tougher test. You're up to this one too. Yes, you were robbed, you've had something you loved taken away from you. But the space that remains is there for something new to come into, and it will. Meanwhile just be where you are.

Wednesday's one of my two 'evenings off' teaching, so no parking problems tonight thank goodness! I'll take your good wishes with me tomorrow, though, and maybe it will go easier. I'm allowing an extra half hour, though!

All the best, Julie

Re: To Denise - yoga and ashrams

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 15:06 (031249)

Thank you for what you said, Denise. And I'm glad yoga has been helping you so much. I believe it would help anyone going through any sort of crisis. I'll never forget one of my students saying, when I was telling my classes about my diagnosis and how I was meeting that challenge, 'When the chips are down we see that it really works'. It does, and my belief is so strong now that more and more of my teaching is focused in this way - I've been giving workshops called 'Yoga for inner strength and healing in times of crisis' and the response has been wonderful. I teach the same classical, but simple, yoga that I've always taught, but giving it that focus really seems to 'speak' to people. It's been very rewarding.

Keep practising and don't even think about 'levels' (I know you were just joking). Yoga isn't about what you can 'do'. On the physical level, it's not how far you go, but the quality of what you're doing to yourself, and the awareness with which you work. On all the other levels it's the way you live your life. There are people who can do hundreds of postures who aren't practising yoga, and people in wheelchairs who can't do a single posture who are.

I think the best way to describe an ashram is that it is a spiritual community. There are different types of ashrams, but their common factor is that they have formed around a spiritual teacher - who may be alive or dead - and the people who make their homes there follow that teacher's teachings, and work for the good of the community. Usually visitors who go to a particular ashram go because they are drawn to those teachings. They may consider themselves disciples, or devotees, of the guru. There are lots of yoga-based ashrams where people can go to do yoga courses, the Sivananda ashram, founded by Swami Sivananda, in Rishikesh is one. As I told you, I go to the ashram which grew up around the great teacher Ramana Maharshi (it's pronounced not as it looks, but RAMana MahaREEshi.) He has been dead for 50 years, but his presence is still powerfully felt. The ashram is at the base of the mountain Arunachala, one of the holiest places in India, many believe the holiest. There are no organized activities, except for morning and evening chanting, and pujas (Hindu ceremonies of worship) and people go there to meditate and just to be there. It's a beautiful, special place and I am looking forward to being there again. My worry, of course, is PF - will it be better enough by the end of December to let me do the half-hour walk up the mountainside every day to my favourite place for meditation without triggering a relapse? Or not? If not - well, I'll face that one when/if I come to it.

Funny you should ask about a computer! Unusually for such a small town, there IS one nearby - my friend Shobhna, who was with me on my previous visits in 1996 and 98, spent three months there last winter and sent me frequent emails from it. I'll have to ask her where it is and say 'hello' to you from it!

You sound interested in India - do you want to go/think of going? You wouldn't regret it. It's very demanding, but wonderful, unforgettable, life-changing.

All the best, Julie

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 15:08 (031250)

Something got left out of my first sentence - I wrote 'having to give up something you worked hard for and love'. NOT just 'having to give up! Sorry.

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts -- Julie

Nancy S. on 10/25/00 at 22:26 (031297)

Thank you for everything, Julie. I have to say, you are a true manifestation of the saying you quoted: an instrument of healing. I will find your book!
I didn't mean to give the impression that ALL previous big changes were more my choice. Many were; some were not -- and your posts are reminding me that when I look back, every one of them, including the ones that weren't my choice, led to a new and better phase of life. I think right now that I've gotten so far as to accept the facts of what's happened (didn't even do that till recently); the emotions are not as accepted yet, haven't become facts yet as something unavoidable and something to learn from. I know I WILL learn from them -- but turmoil is still here. At least I don't feel at the beginning of the process anymore -- somewhere in the middle, I guess, maybe edging toward the end of the tunnel. Whatever larger lessons are in store for me from this, I'm not sure of them yet -- but your posts help me to actually look forward to them! More in these last couple of days than at any time before, I think. So I do thank you very much! I had a very good day today.
Thanks also for what you said about my posts. Honestly, I don't know though how that 'most helpful on the board' thing got started -- there are so many great posters here! -- that tag might have come about by default when we were jokingly trying to find a valedictorian for our 'PF Class' graduation and it was realized that someone far more knowledgeable should give the speech! I'm still in grade school in reality and still learn from this board every day. Ya, I'm on the board every day, you've probably noticed!
Take care and goodnight -- oh, you're probably already asleep. I don't know why, it's only 4:15 a.m. where you are.
Nancy

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts...and some more

Julie F on 10/26/00 at 01:56 (031308)

Dear Nancy

Yes, it's a process, of going through the turmoil. And that's what you're doing and it's great. You know, the mind is clever and devious: it has all sorts of displacement strategies, cunning ways of getting us to avoid feeling what we're feeling (like eating too much, working too hard, etc etc). But we have to go through the turmoil to come out, eventually, on the other side of it. You sound as though youj're well on the way.

My strongest hunch, at the start of my BC crisis, was that I was going to have to *go through* the experience, not go creeping around the outskirts. It was a very vivid visualization. And, of course, a choice. Along with that immediately came the feeling that the experience was going to change me, and that I could look forward to seeing whatever I turned out to be at the end of it. So I was really delighted to hear what you said - that you're looking forward. And I am so glad if anything I've said has been of use to you.

The process is a therapeutic process; it can be gone through with various kinds of help - psychotherapy, counselling, prayer, etc. My own was yoga and meditation; different ways work for different people but they all hinge on self-observation, leading to acceptance and greater awareness. My work has now brought me into contact with people who've had cancer and have got stuck in depression for years because they didn't 'go through it' at the time, but approached it as something to be got over so they could 'get back to normal and be as they were before'. I truly feel that that way lies the real emotional difficulties. (I hope this is making sense.) Every 'big' experience contains within it the potential for transformation; through it we move into a new place, maybe even onto a different plane. As long as we go through it.

(George Eliot said something to the effect of 'it's a poor return for a painful experience if all we get at the end of it is our same puny old self.' I can't put my hand on the quote, and that was very innacurate, but that's what she means.)

If we avoid feeling what we're feeling, we lose that opportunity for growth. If we side-step our emotions and push them down, a great deal of energy is trapped in keeping them there: we stay stuck. Once they're allowed to rise to the surface we can look at them, gain clarity on them, acknowledge them and accept them. And then, eventually, we can let go of them, and when that happens the energy that has been blocked in holding them down is released for more useful, more creative purposes.

I hate the word and the concept of 'denial'. I used to use it, but now I find it judgemental, even pejorative ('she's in denial', meaning, 'why doesn't she face up to whatever it is?' Ever so superior!). But sometimes denial may be a person's only way of coping with the onslaught without the help of simple techniques, and that is what yoga, and particularly meditation, have to offer. Just sitting still and watching the breath, and from that position of relative control and strength, looking at whatever comes up. That's what I did in those 'dark nights' when I woke up panicking at 3am. And it helped, all through.

Nancy, my other big help through the process was keeping a journal. Do you do that? I have a feeling you would find it helpful too. It's easy on the keyboard to 'keep up with yourself'- I guess you're pretty fast too. It's another good way of getting some clarity on all the 'stuff' that goes on inside.

Enough. I hope you're asleep now (2am where you are?) but good morning in advance for when you wake up.

Julie

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts...found the George Eliot quote

Julie F on 10/26/00 at 05:40 (031310)

It's from 'Adam Bede'. I'll give the whole paragraph it comes from.

'For Adam, though you see him quite master of himself, working hard at delighting in his work after his inborn inalienable nature, had not outlived his sorrow - had not felt it slip from him as a temporary burthen, and leave him the same man again. Do any of us? God forbid. It would be a poor result of all our anguish and our wrestling, if we won nothing but our old selves at the end of it - if we could return to the same blind loves, the same self-confident blame, the same light thoughts of human suffering, the same frivolous gossip over blighted human lives, the same feeble sense of that Unknown towards which we have sent forth irrepressible cries in our loneliness. Let us rather be thankful that our sorrow lives in us as an indestructible force, only changing its form, as forces do, and passing from pain into sympathy - the one poor word which includes all our best insight and our best love.'

Re: Same wave length

Julie F on 10/26/00 at 08:20 (031315)

No doubt about it - knew it all the time. I look forward to your more. Meanwhile I hope you get on all right at PT and especially with the orthotics appointment, and to hearing how it goes. Julie

Re: Journal writing

Julie F on 10/28/00 at 11:33 (031516)

Nancy,

Yes, I do pretty well everything on my Mac. I can't think without it any more. My handwriting has atrophied in the 10 years since I acquired technology! Mind you, I use it only as a glorified word processor and am quite oblivious to the other 99% of its capabilities.

When I started writing my cancer journal, I had to do it on on the keyboard and not by hand. Things were happening so fast, and the onslaught of emotions was so overwhelming, that the keyboard was the only way I could keep up with myself. I didn't at that stage need to reflect, I needed above all to be clear about what I was feeling about what was happening to me. It was therapy of a kind, and it had much in common with meditation: each gives the opportunity of looking at whatever comes up, and gaining clarity on it.

Handwriting vs keyboard? It depends what one wants to achieve. Like you, I can type faster than I can think, but I think that is good (certainly for my purposes at the time it was good): thinking, i.e. using one's intellect can obscure feeling. At the time I knew that if I wrote slower I would be super-imposing what I 'thought' (or thought I thought) on what was really going on underneath.

Am I making sense? Often, I astonished myself by what I dredged up. Here's a bit of journal, from the book (excuse me quoting myself!): 'There have been times whenI've begun, started 'just writing', with nothing to say and nothing coming. But mostly my flying fingers, if I just let them go, seem to touch whatever is going inside and draw it out for me to examine. It can't really be my fingers. It's my mind: when I write in my journal, it starts to focus on whatever is going on inside. It's a bit like focusing a camera (manual focus). At first everything is unclear, blurred, subterranean; one's vision swims, one can't see anything. Then, as one carefully turns the lens, the subject comes slowly into focus. Often, I haven't a clue what it is that needs to be focused on, what it is that's going on inside before I start, but something always rises to the surface and becomes clear to me as I go on. Once it does, I can draw it out and look at it, give it a name, recognize it for what it is, and then it can never recede, fade, disappear, be buried, as it would if I hadn't written it. Once it's out in the open I can look at it and I do look at it. And once I've really looked at it, the bonds loosen and that's what it's all about. Little by little, I let go. Once something has been pulled out of the murky unclear darkness into the clear light of day, it is there. It cannot slip back. No effort of will could re-repress it! Once it's out, there's no way I can avoid looking art it, and once it is looked at it can be assimilated, integrated into consciousness. Writing is helping me understand this process.'

Points from other posts. You said in one of them yesterday that the title of a book has come to you: 'The Point of Belief'. It's a great title! Are you going to write the book?

Also I agree with your husband: you're just having a bad year, and they won't all be like this. It is a truism, but it's also a truth, that everything passes, and gives way to something else. In this connection I was thinking about the George Eliot quote again. Sorrow, anguish and pain are going to change us: there is no getting away from that. Once we understand this, we can embrace the possibility of transformation wholeheartedly; and the experience, if we don't let it embitter us, will enlarge us. Tomorrow I'm giving a workshop and I just know I'm going to bring that quote in! Thank you for being the instrument of calling it to mind.

Too long again. Never mind. Nice to talk to you! When do you leave for Michigan?

All the best, Julie

All the best, Julie

Re: Journal writing

Nancy S. on 10/29/00 at 21:38 (031605)

Thanks for this, Julie. And yes, you do make sense! Reflection certainly has its place, and I suspect I already do far too much of it -- a new kind of journal is coming to mind, thanks to you.
I just might have to write that book (whoever heard of the title coming first, though?). Maybe I'll get famous and can buy ESWT for everyone.
We leave for Michigan early Wed. morning, and have too much to do between now and then. This is not unusual when I'm one of the people going. . . .
I hope your workshop went well!
Nancy

Re: Journal writing

Julie F on 10/30/00 at 01:51 (031611)

Nancy - why shouldn't the title come first? Something has to! Mine did too. 'Point of Belief' really is a good title, so it must be a book you want to write. Why not start with a journal?

The workshop went well: thank you. And I did start our post-lunch discussion with the first line of the GE quote. I asked them what they felt about it and got a thoughtful and in some cases quite profound response - one woman who had breast cancer a year ago spoke of 'the great gifts' that the experience, though devastating, had brought, and the 'sense of enlargement' she now has.

I hope you have a wonderful trip. I'm glad you decided to go.

All the best, Julie

Re: Journal writing

Nancy S. on 10/30/00 at 06:20 (031614)

Hi Julie,
It's interesting that I read the second part of your workshopper's response as 'and the sense of entrapment she now has.' This didn't fit with 'the great gifts' part, so I read it again and still saw the word 'entrapment.' It took me three readings before I realized it's 'enlargement'! It's not hard to see where I'm coming from right now, is it!
I'm getting that new notebook Today (at least for starters, to take on the trip). Several omens are telling me to.
Thanks from Nancy -- I hope you have a wonderful week.

Re: Journal writing

Julie F on 10/30/00 at 07:06 (031615)

Hi Nancy

I think you just get up too early - I wouldn't read anything more sinister than that into it. Anyway, you're obviously moving from entrapment to enlargement, as I'm sure you'll discover from your new notebook (which sounds, btw, like a great excuse for putting your feet up in Michigan).

All the best, Julie

Re: Titles

Kim B. on 10/30/00 at 09:40 (031628)

Nancy, title first is A-OK. Lots of song writers for example, start with a title, or the first line for the chorus, or even 'The Hook'. You can always change the Title, later, if your writing takes you in a different direction.

Good luck, Kim B.

Re: thanks, Nancy, and here's a tome.

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 03:35 (031203)

Good morning, Nancy - the next morning, I mean, and thanks for your message. While you were posting it I was driving around Central London hunting for a parking place - took me half an hour to find one, MUCH too far from where I teach - I count every unnecessary step these days. Now it's, let's see, 4 am your Maine time and I'll bet you're awake and browsing/reading/posting.

Nancy, I'm sorry you've had to close your antiques business down. Your feet WILL get better, and when they do you'll be able to return to it if you still want to. Maybe this enforced time out, and all the pain, will bear unforeseen fruit, though. What feels like an unmitigated catastrophe can work profound changes in one's life, as you probably know. Seven years ago I discovered that I had breast cancer, and I had a mastectomy. I took five months off teaching to heal and come to terms while some of my students in training took over my classes. At first I felt I was being 'stopped in my tracks' just as I'd begun my real work in life (I was 58 and it was only 3 years since I'd left publishing) but in fact it proved a watershed. It taught me a great deal, it changed me, and amongst other things it made me, I think, a more useful teacher.

When I was first diagnosed, and agonizing about 'why has this happened?' (guilt subtext: 'what have I done to cause it?') my own teacher, a wise woman, said 'It doesn't matter why. All that matters now is what you do with this experience, how you use it.' That turned the whole thing around for me. I had no idea at the time how I would use it, but what she said helped me trust that I could go through it and might someday use it well. I guess I'd say that it made me turn towards the experience, to accept and not reject it: emotionally, I mean - I had no choice otherwise, but I did have a choice about that.

I started keeping a journal, and eventually wrote a book about my experience of cancer and how one gets through that or any other kind of crisis - in my case with the help of yoga. It's not really a 'self-help' book, it's very practical, and has since helped a lot of people. I also now teach people with cancer and train teachers who want to explore this area of work. I know I would not be doing what I'm doing if I had not had cancer. I think experiences are given to us to learn from, and that our job is to figure out what the lesson is and learn it so that we can move on. I know that sounds like a platitude, and of course it can be, but having cancer proved its truth to me. It's the most difficult and painful experiences that have the most to teach us, and what we learn from from them helps others (this website is a very good example.)

(Having said that, I'm not sure yet what PF is supposed to be teaching me - patience, perhaps, and there's no doubt I need to learn THAT!)

I didn't know I was going to say all that, but there it is. Maybe it's useful to you. I was simply going to say, it's good to feel 22 with your life ahead of you. I'm glad you do. Me, I feel 27, the age at which I got married, and which my husband insisted for years I still was. He gave that up when I was about 53, but I still look younger than I am (as you do - I remember what your new PT said!) But I'm 65 nonetheless and the loss of elasticity or-whatever-it-is in my plantar fascia that has contributed to PF is the first undeniable sign of physical aging that I've had to swallow. I feel a bit stopped in my tracks again (literally this time); but, as I've said before, I'm lucky to have discovered this website so quickly and to have started dealing with it before it got bad. And it's so good, as so many have said, to be in touch with others who 'know'. Most of the people in my 'cancer class' feel that one of the most helpful things about it is learning yoga in a community in which everyone, including the teacher, has 'been through it'. It's very rewarding to teach them because they are so highly motivated to help themselves. Some come apprehensively because they partly don't want to be around others with cancer, but that quickly disappears. One new girl, who has just been diagnosed with myeloid leukemia at the age of 28, said at our first meeting on Monday 'I thought everyone would look ILL, but you all look great!' That was lovely.

This is getting far too long, but I have to confess that no, I didn't have anything to do with the Manual of Style: it was already around when I started at Chicago. I used it a lot in the work I did there, and still have an ancient copy.

Finally, I forgot to say yesterday thank you for your offer to help and advise when my Acu-Flex arrives - I'm sure I will take you up on that.

It's good to be in touch. All the best, Julie

Re: Enjoyed reading your tome

Denise E on 10/25/00 at 06:34 (031209)

Julie, What a beautifully written and inspiring posting. Enjoyed reading it this morning. The August issue of the Yoga Journal contained the stories of 5 people who were helped by Yoga during some health crisis. This issue also contains write ups on Yoga centers in London.

I guess I've enjoyed a fairly problem free and active life. This PF really got me down in the dumps. The only thing that has saved me from a major depression has been Yoga and I'm thankfull that I discovered it in 1998. Though I think I'll be at level 1 for the rest of my life. Just joking. Actually I do notice lot of improvement since I PRACTICE yoga everyday now and take 2 classes a week. It's probably my tennis game that is going down hill.

Will you have access to a computer in India. Would love to get a note from you there, sharing your experiences.

BTW, what is an ashram?

Re: thanks, Nancy, and here's a tome.

Nancy S. on 10/25/00 at 07:45 (031211)

Thanks so much for your tome, Julie! Like Denise, I found it very inspiring and thought provoking. It sounds like you used your cancer experience really really well, and I admire that a lot. My husband, a longtime Buddhist, talks with me often about being open to new paths -- and, as you say, I know this first requires accepting emotionally what my feet have done to my life. I've been working at that for a long time and some days I get good glimpses past it. They don't last for me yet, though. Maybe the final letting-go of my work is too recent; I still find myself looking back too much and not looking ahead enough -- or even sitting still with that feeling of true acceptance. Most of the big changes in my life up to this point were my choice, and I happily took on those challenges. This one wasn't my choice, and I do feel a little robbed of a new life that I loved and had worked very hard to create. At the same time, I know that feeling robbed doesn't help and that I simply have to create something new. ('Simply'!)
And I know that many on this board must go through similar experiences.
Anyway, your attitude is an inspiration, and thank you so much for posting it. I'm still learning all the time.
Hope you've found your parking space by now!
Nancy

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 15:04 (031248)

Dear Nancy

It's a real test, isn't it, having the rug pulled out from under you like that, and having to give up But I know you will get through this. Your husband is right, but I know it's hard to look forward and be open to change when you're hurting all the time. But you will. I think it really does come down to acceptance, and that doesn't mean lying down under the burden of what's happened, or turning your face to the wall, but looking at the situation as it is - accepting it, and especially accepting all the emotions that come with it - the anger, the grief, the fear, everything. It's my profound belief that acknowledgement and acceptance are the key to healing. This is really what my book is about. Maybe you'd like to read it? It's called 'A Visible Wound: A Healing Journey through Breast Cancer', and my surname is Friedeberger. It's published by Element Inc. in the States. Element in the UK have just gone into receivership, alas, but Element Inc have plenty of stock and are still selling it. If you can't get to a bookstore it's on several websites, including Amazon.

Ages ago, years and years BC (before cancer) I came across a saying that has spoken to me ever since: 'those who are healed become instruments of healing'. Well, you already are, aren't you - the most helpful on the board! I mean that - your posts are always so sensitive and good. You say that all the big changes and challenges in your life up to now have been your choice and you've met them happily. Could you look at it like this: that, having proved yourself up to all that, you were ready for a bigger challenge, a tougher test. You're up to this one too. Yes, you were robbed, you've had something you loved taken away from you. But the space that remains is there for something new to come into, and it will. Meanwhile just be where you are.

Wednesday's one of my two 'evenings off' teaching, so no parking problems tonight thank goodness! I'll take your good wishes with me tomorrow, though, and maybe it will go easier. I'm allowing an extra half hour, though!

All the best, Julie

Re: To Denise - yoga and ashrams

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 15:06 (031249)

Thank you for what you said, Denise. And I'm glad yoga has been helping you so much. I believe it would help anyone going through any sort of crisis. I'll never forget one of my students saying, when I was telling my classes about my diagnosis and how I was meeting that challenge, 'When the chips are down we see that it really works'. It does, and my belief is so strong now that more and more of my teaching is focused in this way - I've been giving workshops called 'Yoga for inner strength and healing in times of crisis' and the response has been wonderful. I teach the same classical, but simple, yoga that I've always taught, but giving it that focus really seems to 'speak' to people. It's been very rewarding.

Keep practising and don't even think about 'levels' (I know you were just joking). Yoga isn't about what you can 'do'. On the physical level, it's not how far you go, but the quality of what you're doing to yourself, and the awareness with which you work. On all the other levels it's the way you live your life. There are people who can do hundreds of postures who aren't practising yoga, and people in wheelchairs who can't do a single posture who are.

I think the best way to describe an ashram is that it is a spiritual community. There are different types of ashrams, but their common factor is that they have formed around a spiritual teacher - who may be alive or dead - and the people who make their homes there follow that teacher's teachings, and work for the good of the community. Usually visitors who go to a particular ashram go because they are drawn to those teachings. They may consider themselves disciples, or devotees, of the guru. There are lots of yoga-based ashrams where people can go to do yoga courses, the Sivananda ashram, founded by Swami Sivananda, in Rishikesh is one. As I told you, I go to the ashram which grew up around the great teacher Ramana Maharshi (it's pronounced not as it looks, but RAMana MahaREEshi.) He has been dead for 50 years, but his presence is still powerfully felt. The ashram is at the base of the mountain Arunachala, one of the holiest places in India, many believe the holiest. There are no organized activities, except for morning and evening chanting, and pujas (Hindu ceremonies of worship) and people go there to meditate and just to be there. It's a beautiful, special place and I am looking forward to being there again. My worry, of course, is PF - will it be better enough by the end of December to let me do the half-hour walk up the mountainside every day to my favourite place for meditation without triggering a relapse? Or not? If not - well, I'll face that one when/if I come to it.

Funny you should ask about a computer! Unusually for such a small town, there IS one nearby - my friend Shobhna, who was with me on my previous visits in 1996 and 98, spent three months there last winter and sent me frequent emails from it. I'll have to ask her where it is and say 'hello' to you from it!

You sound interested in India - do you want to go/think of going? You wouldn't regret it. It's very demanding, but wonderful, unforgettable, life-changing.

All the best, Julie

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts

Julie F on 10/25/00 at 15:08 (031250)

Something got left out of my first sentence - I wrote 'having to give up something you worked hard for and love'. NOT just 'having to give up! Sorry.

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts -- Julie

Nancy S. on 10/25/00 at 22:26 (031297)

Thank you for everything, Julie. I have to say, you are a true manifestation of the saying you quoted: an instrument of healing. I will find your book!
I didn't mean to give the impression that ALL previous big changes were more my choice. Many were; some were not -- and your posts are reminding me that when I look back, every one of them, including the ones that weren't my choice, led to a new and better phase of life. I think right now that I've gotten so far as to accept the facts of what's happened (didn't even do that till recently); the emotions are not as accepted yet, haven't become facts yet as something unavoidable and something to learn from. I know I WILL learn from them -- but turmoil is still here. At least I don't feel at the beginning of the process anymore -- somewhere in the middle, I guess, maybe edging toward the end of the tunnel. Whatever larger lessons are in store for me from this, I'm not sure of them yet -- but your posts help me to actually look forward to them! More in these last couple of days than at any time before, I think. So I do thank you very much! I had a very good day today.
Thanks also for what you said about my posts. Honestly, I don't know though how that 'most helpful on the board' thing got started -- there are so many great posters here! -- that tag might have come about by default when we were jokingly trying to find a valedictorian for our 'PF Class' graduation and it was realized that someone far more knowledgeable should give the speech! I'm still in grade school in reality and still learn from this board every day. Ya, I'm on the board every day, you've probably noticed!
Take care and goodnight -- oh, you're probably already asleep. I don't know why, it's only 4:15 a.m. where you are.
Nancy

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts...and some more

Julie F on 10/26/00 at 01:56 (031308)

Dear Nancy

Yes, it's a process, of going through the turmoil. And that's what you're doing and it's great. You know, the mind is clever and devious: it has all sorts of displacement strategies, cunning ways of getting us to avoid feeling what we're feeling (like eating too much, working too hard, etc etc). But we have to go through the turmoil to come out, eventually, on the other side of it. You sound as though youj're well on the way.

My strongest hunch, at the start of my BC crisis, was that I was going to have to *go through* the experience, not go creeping around the outskirts. It was a very vivid visualization. And, of course, a choice. Along with that immediately came the feeling that the experience was going to change me, and that I could look forward to seeing whatever I turned out to be at the end of it. So I was really delighted to hear what you said - that you're looking forward. And I am so glad if anything I've said has been of use to you.

The process is a therapeutic process; it can be gone through with various kinds of help - psychotherapy, counselling, prayer, etc. My own was yoga and meditation; different ways work for different people but they all hinge on self-observation, leading to acceptance and greater awareness. My work has now brought me into contact with people who've had cancer and have got stuck in depression for years because they didn't 'go through it' at the time, but approached it as something to be got over so they could 'get back to normal and be as they were before'. I truly feel that that way lies the real emotional difficulties. (I hope this is making sense.) Every 'big' experience contains within it the potential for transformation; through it we move into a new place, maybe even onto a different plane. As long as we go through it.

(George Eliot said something to the effect of 'it's a poor return for a painful experience if all we get at the end of it is our same puny old self.' I can't put my hand on the quote, and that was very innacurate, but that's what she means.)

If we avoid feeling what we're feeling, we lose that opportunity for growth. If we side-step our emotions and push them down, a great deal of energy is trapped in keeping them there: we stay stuck. Once they're allowed to rise to the surface we can look at them, gain clarity on them, acknowledge them and accept them. And then, eventually, we can let go of them, and when that happens the energy that has been blocked in holding them down is released for more useful, more creative purposes.

I hate the word and the concept of 'denial'. I used to use it, but now I find it judgemental, even pejorative ('she's in denial', meaning, 'why doesn't she face up to whatever it is?' Ever so superior!). But sometimes denial may be a person's only way of coping with the onslaught without the help of simple techniques, and that is what yoga, and particularly meditation, have to offer. Just sitting still and watching the breath, and from that position of relative control and strength, looking at whatever comes up. That's what I did in those 'dark nights' when I woke up panicking at 3am. And it helped, all through.

Nancy, my other big help through the process was keeping a journal. Do you do that? I have a feeling you would find it helpful too. It's easy on the keyboard to 'keep up with yourself'- I guess you're pretty fast too. It's another good way of getting some clarity on all the 'stuff' that goes on inside.

Enough. I hope you're asleep now (2am where you are?) but good morning in advance for when you wake up.

Julie

Re: To Nancy, more thoughts...found the George Eliot quote

Julie F on 10/26/00 at 05:40 (031310)

It's from 'Adam Bede'. I'll give the whole paragraph it comes from.

'For Adam, though you see him quite master of himself, working hard at delighting in his work after his inborn inalienable nature, had not outlived his sorrow - had not felt it slip from him as a temporary burthen, and leave him the same man again. Do any of us? God forbid. It would be a poor result of all our anguish and our wrestling, if we won nothing but our old selves at the end of it - if we could return to the same blind loves, the same self-confident blame, the same light thoughts of human suffering, the same frivolous gossip over blighted human lives, the same feeble sense of that Unknown towards which we have sent forth irrepressible cries in our loneliness. Let us rather be thankful that our sorrow lives in us as an indestructible force, only changing its form, as forces do, and passing from pain into sympathy - the one poor word which includes all our best insight and our best love.'

Re: Same wave length

Julie F on 10/26/00 at 08:20 (031315)

No doubt about it - knew it all the time. I look forward to your more. Meanwhile I hope you get on all right at PT and especially with the orthotics appointment, and to hearing how it goes. Julie

Re: Journal writing

Julie F on 10/28/00 at 11:33 (031516)

Nancy,

Yes, I do pretty well everything on my Mac. I can't think without it any more. My handwriting has atrophied in the 10 years since I acquired technology! Mind you, I use it only as a glorified word processor and am quite oblivious to the other 99% of its capabilities.

When I started writing my cancer journal, I had to do it on on the keyboard and not by hand. Things were happening so fast, and the onslaught of emotions was so overwhelming, that the keyboard was the only way I could keep up with myself. I didn't at that stage need to reflect, I needed above all to be clear about what I was feeling about what was happening to me. It was therapy of a kind, and it had much in common with meditation: each gives the opportunity of looking at whatever comes up, and gaining clarity on it.

Handwriting vs keyboard? It depends what one wants to achieve. Like you, I can type faster than I can think, but I think that is good (certainly for my purposes at the time it was good): thinking, i.e. using one's intellect can obscure feeling. At the time I knew that if I wrote slower I would be super-imposing what I 'thought' (or thought I thought) on what was really going on underneath.

Am I making sense? Often, I astonished myself by what I dredged up. Here's a bit of journal, from the book (excuse me quoting myself!): 'There have been times whenI've begun, started 'just writing', with nothing to say and nothing coming. But mostly my flying fingers, if I just let them go, seem to touch whatever is going inside and draw it out for me to examine. It can't really be my fingers. It's my mind: when I write in my journal, it starts to focus on whatever is going on inside. It's a bit like focusing a camera (manual focus). At first everything is unclear, blurred, subterranean; one's vision swims, one can't see anything. Then, as one carefully turns the lens, the subject comes slowly into focus. Often, I haven't a clue what it is that needs to be focused on, what it is that's going on inside before I start, but something always rises to the surface and becomes clear to me as I go on. Once it does, I can draw it out and look at it, give it a name, recognize it for what it is, and then it can never recede, fade, disappear, be buried, as it would if I hadn't written it. Once it's out in the open I can look at it and I do look at it. And once I've really looked at it, the bonds loosen and that's what it's all about. Little by little, I let go. Once something has been pulled out of the murky unclear darkness into the clear light of day, it is there. It cannot slip back. No effort of will could re-repress it! Once it's out, there's no way I can avoid looking art it, and once it is looked at it can be assimilated, integrated into consciousness. Writing is helping me understand this process.'

Points from other posts. You said in one of them yesterday that the title of a book has come to you: 'The Point of Belief'. It's a great title! Are you going to write the book?

Also I agree with your husband: you're just having a bad year, and they won't all be like this. It is a truism, but it's also a truth, that everything passes, and gives way to something else. In this connection I was thinking about the George Eliot quote again. Sorrow, anguish and pain are going to change us: there is no getting away from that. Once we understand this, we can embrace the possibility of transformation wholeheartedly; and the experience, if we don't let it embitter us, will enlarge us. Tomorrow I'm giving a workshop and I just know I'm going to bring that quote in! Thank you for being the instrument of calling it to mind.

Too long again. Never mind. Nice to talk to you! When do you leave for Michigan?

All the best, Julie

All the best, Julie

Re: Journal writing

Nancy S. on 10/29/00 at 21:38 (031605)

Thanks for this, Julie. And yes, you do make sense! Reflection certainly has its place, and I suspect I already do far too much of it -- a new kind of journal is coming to mind, thanks to you.
I just might have to write that book (whoever heard of the title coming first, though?). Maybe I'll get famous and can buy ESWT for everyone.
We leave for Michigan early Wed. morning, and have too much to do between now and then. This is not unusual when I'm one of the people going. . . .
I hope your workshop went well!
Nancy

Re: Journal writing

Julie F on 10/30/00 at 01:51 (031611)

Nancy - why shouldn't the title come first? Something has to! Mine did too. 'Point of Belief' really is a good title, so it must be a book you want to write. Why not start with a journal?

The workshop went well: thank you. And I did start our post-lunch discussion with the first line of the GE quote. I asked them what they felt about it and got a thoughtful and in some cases quite profound response - one woman who had breast cancer a year ago spoke of 'the great gifts' that the experience, though devastating, had brought, and the 'sense of enlargement' she now has.

I hope you have a wonderful trip. I'm glad you decided to go.

All the best, Julie

Re: Journal writing

Nancy S. on 10/30/00 at 06:20 (031614)

Hi Julie,
It's interesting that I read the second part of your workshopper's response as 'and the sense of entrapment she now has.' This didn't fit with 'the great gifts' part, so I read it again and still saw the word 'entrapment.' It took me three readings before I realized it's 'enlargement'! It's not hard to see where I'm coming from right now, is it!
I'm getting that new notebook Today (at least for starters, to take on the trip). Several omens are telling me to.
Thanks from Nancy -- I hope you have a wonderful week.

Re: Journal writing

Julie F on 10/30/00 at 07:06 (031615)

Hi Nancy

I think you just get up too early - I wouldn't read anything more sinister than that into it. Anyway, you're obviously moving from entrapment to enlargement, as I'm sure you'll discover from your new notebook (which sounds, btw, like a great excuse for putting your feet up in Michigan).

All the best, Julie

Re: Titles

Kim B. on 10/30/00 at 09:40 (031628)

Nancy, title first is A-OK. Lots of song writers for example, start with a title, or the first line for the chorus, or even 'The Hook'. You can always change the Title, later, if your writing takes you in a different direction.

Good luck, Kim B.