Lose Yourself in the Music, the Moment: Memories of a Lifetime

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A few weeks ago I had a slated visit with my Psychologist, a stunning, statuesque woman with the most attractive Russian accent. Every time I see her I am reminded of a Russian friend whom I’ve shared some of my best memories with. Innately I warm to the Doctor right away in a reminiscent fashion, regardless of my long absence in seeing her. She has the ability to put me at ease without granting the notion that I am losing my shit. She was on my level, just like my old friend, and I liked that.

After arriving in her office, ornamented with psychology book after psychology book, as well as notes strewn about her desk in an organized mess, I sat down on the plush couch, across from her high back chair. The diffuser rested on a shelf, and exhaled the most calming hint of lavender. Being that it had been awhile since I had last seen her, there was a lot that I needed to express, things that I was reluctant to share with anyone, including my husband. My heart was racing, and my mouth dry, as I began to divulge it all, skipping over any possibility of small talk.

I told her that my intellectual side was at war with my spiritual side. I told her that when I go out in public I am paralyzed by fear of the worst happening. I told her everything in my private life was pleasing, but I was still plagued with chest wrenching anxiety. And then I told her more importantly that I was starting to disremember anything that came before cancer, and that it scared me out of my wits.

Supposing she was going to prescribe pills on top of pills, it was a risk I was willing to take. My own thoughts were becoming unbearable, a constant, and frenzied sense of trepidation, and silent chaos.

“Write,” she contested. “There are a number of pills I could prescribe, but the best medicine for you is writing, and that’s something that only you can do. Flex that muscle. You are a writer, so write.”

I didn’t have much of a defense. Despite her brilliance, and numbered Doctorate degrees, it was advice that didn’t take a rocket scientist to propose, yet a remedy that I hadn’t been practicing lately.

“I can’t,” I confessed.

Aiding to the anxiety that I have been facing were flashbacks of all of the traumatic events that have taken place over the course of my cancer career. The nastiness that is coupled with being a member of the club with a cancer card, the gruesome surgeries, and the inches I’ve been to death; it was all starting to slither its way in, wrapping around my mind. The problematic issue is that all of the memories that once came before cancer were evaporating. The bones for my book had been laid out perfectly on the table for the past two years, and yet I’ve failed to give it flesh as my memories were being overshadowed. As a writer we depend on our memories to bring a perspective, and narrative from our account to paper; alive, if you will.

“Write out of order, escape yourself by listening to the music you have listened to throughout your life. Music evokes the deep-level parts of our emotions, where our earliest memories are stored. What you have done is compartmentalized the before life, and the after life of living with cancer, putting the before on a shelf to deal with the latter.”

Her words were magic.

“When we can tap into those memories, or a specific memory, the neurotransmitters in your brain will then lead to awakening another memory, and another, and another,” the Doctor articulated.

The words did not fall on deaf ears; I was in tune to everything she was concurring.

“My prescription to you is to write. It does not have to be for your blog, it doesn’t even have to be for your book, it can be just for you if you like. But, I promise you this, if you listen to music, and tap into your memories, not all of your problems will be solved, however it is the best thing you could do for yourself.”

It sounded so easy, and then again not, but I was willing to go there, re-sort the boxes in my brain, and get its contents down on paper.

When I got home I played country from the late 1980’s through my airpods; George Strait, The Judds, Alabama, even Billy Ray Cyrus. Come on, everyone loved Achey Breaky Heart, and Billy Ray is a national treasure. The waves of reminiscence to my early childhood were immense. From each memory I was able to draw another memory, and then another, and another after that, just as the Doctor preached. As the night prolonged, I realized there was an untold, layered story behind every song, from my first kiss, to my first love, leaving home for the first time, adventures in my 20’s, to the time I met my husband, and knew right then, and there he’d be the one I’d marry. The words flowed out of me as I entered a chaotic, yet focused zone in the writing universe. The bones to my story now had bits of flesh, and my memories were as fresh as if I was reliving it once again.

There are many days that I ponder my purpose or wonder if I even have one. My sole goal over the years of my diagnosis has been purely survival, sometimes leaving very little energy for anything else. Since I met with the Doctor, I have added a new goal to my life, which is to write everyday, no matter what. Thus far, it’s been filling in the pieces that are coming back to life in my mind, and although the past should be a place of reference, this has allowed me to reconnect with the person I was before my life changed in the least expected of ways. I realize that all of the memories connect, and if I didn’t have certain people, or have gone through certain experiences it wouldn’t be my life, or my narrative. It could very well take a lifetime to share my tale of this weird life, but God it won’t be boring.

PS- I hope you appreciate my Eminem reference in my chosen title of this confession. #musictherapy #inspiration #punny

Love,

Britt x

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Sunday: Sitting Naked Smoking a Joint B/C I Can

Moments ago I sat on our outdoor chaise, smoking a joint out of an Audrey Hepburn like fashion cigarette holder, only mine was good old fashioned Mary Jane, not a ciggy.  The backdrop being pure zen as the Japanese Friendship Garden takes my breath away, although I see it day after day.

Hance park, behind the garden just so happens to be hosting Mountain McDowell Music Festival over the weekend, where the likes of Beck and Animal Collective were a part of the line up.  Being blessed with our location in Downtown Phoenix, we were able to hear the show as if we were present.  It was clear as day, all three days!  Whilst enjoying my smokey treat, the band, The Senators were up, soothing me and the rest of the actual MMMF goers with their song, Music From Another Room and I thought how fitting. 

Here I sit, in another room, per usual because of my resistance to join the rest of the public in fear of my condition.  Just yesterday Steve, myself, my family and a ton of friends went to the horse track, as they held the annual wiener races and we of course now have our little, Zoila — sausage dog.  That morning as we were gearing up to go, I felt extremely fatigued, dizzy, clammy, so on and so forth.  Mind you, within the last few weeks I have had chemo (poison) pumped into my body, switched a total of four large doses of vital medications and was placed on hormone replacements due to going through menopause at the ripe age of thirty.  Intense doesn’t even begin to skim the surface.  Long story short, I put on a brave face, per good form and off to the races we went.

Typically for me, it’s a mixed bag of nuts going out in public, meaning anything outside of Doctor’s visits and affiliate/branding jobs.  Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit nuts myself, but  often times I suffer from anxiety because I shelter myself in so many ways.  I get weirded out and nervous thinking and believing that people are weirded out and nervous by my cancer.  The reality is, that I am able to comprehend that the world does not orbit around me and that it is all in my head.  But, hey, these are the things that go through my head and I’m being honest here.  This is my circle of truth.  Then by that point, once we arrive and I see all of the beautiful faces of my family and friends all of the woes and worries of the world seemingly disappear.  That along with the spirit of my reality and my set of circumstances, as I am able to giggle and escape in which case I would take over a doobie any second.  That is the highest of all highs.  A high that any Doctor or Dispensary cannot provide.

Although we had to leave the races early and take a little visit to the Mayo Hospital, I was cleared and sent home with good news that I was just dehydrated and out of whack due to my recent changes in medication.  But, even if it was for a sliver of a second, I was able to be normal and engage with friends and loved ones, crack open a beer, enjoy the sunshine, smile at strangers, wait in the ridiculously long ladies restroom line.  You know, normal stuff.  It’s the small things, truly.

On our way home from the hospital Steve and I were starved being that we hadn’t eaten, had been in the sun and then to follow had been at the hospital.  We decided to go on a classy date to Chino Bandido, a delicacy for Phoenicians, a Mexican and Chinese combined taker-outeree.  It’s the least classiest place I can think of, but by far the most delicious.  We chowed down, crashed on the bed as soon as we walked through the door and other than watching American Restoration and answering boring emails today, you’re pretty much up to date.

Yet, there is a point to all of this rambling.  As I lay on my terrace on my chaise lounge, listening to The Senators at MMMF, I realized it’s okay that I cannot do it all anymore.  These are the cards I have been dealt.  Instead, I decided to strip down to my birthday suit. You heard me, correctly.  I got completely stark NAKED, smoked the hell out of my joint and escaped to the most beautiful and cerebral place that exists only in my mind.

I live on such an extreme spectrum in life and I’m not quite sure if I will ever figure that spectrum out, or rather if it will figure me out. And perhaps that’s for the best.  Things come to me in other ways; I am so in tune with myself in a rainbow of other ways and at the same time I am a complicated woman, a Scorpio woman at that.  But damn, it felt so emancipating and comforting all at once, to stand in front of the sunshine in my bare, raw state — showing my scars and my body without any shame or guilt for who I was in that very moment.

I can only wish that everyone experiences such nirvana.

Have a beautiful sabbath day if that is your thing, beautiful ones. Otherwise, peace and love, always.

Love forev,

Britt x

Buzzin’: A Nod to Sinéad O’Connor

Life is short, talk is cheap — so I did it.  I buzzed the hell out of my hair (or Steve did,rather). We were able to capture it on film, as well as audio and I’ll be sharing them both separately.

It was a tough call as to whether or not I should take the risk of buzzing my hair.  I’m extremely vain at times and wasn’t sure if I’d feel feminine enough.  But, this morning after pulling out a glob of hair out, I knew it was a CHOICE that I wanted to make.  A choice that I decided upon because I didn’t want to have to deal with globs and globs every day.  I want control.

 

Love,

Britt x

“Hello,” Adele’s Anthem for Fall in Phoenix:

Ah, the smell of fall is in the air — talking about the recently purchased three wick candles, of course. Each draw of the waxy aroma is reminiscent of how spectacular this time of year is in the Valley of the Sun.

Phoenix is not quite Door County, yet fall still finds a way to claim representation, being sought after by Phoenicians everlastingly. It is the central motive to surviving the living hell that is our summer season. Despite Phoenix’s sunny disposition, the heat can bring on the sadness, similar to Adele’s previous albums, 19 and 21.

Adele’s impeccable timing came when Phoenician’s were ready to say their first Hello” to the bliss that is our fall. We have our very own fall anthem explained in a way that no one else but Adele could have done:

“Hello, it’s me

 I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet

 to go over everything

 they say that time’s supposed to heal ya, but I ain’t done much

healing”

The translation is simple, Phoenix, or to anyone living in extreme temperatures.

“Fall, it’s me

summer feels like its been years

and I was wondering if you’d like to meet

to go over all this heat

they say coolers supposed to heal ya, but it I ain’t seen much

cooling”

Just as you begin to think that the songstress is going to stay true to her broken hearted lyrics, “Hello from the other side” wafts your face like a breath of fresh air and as the song proceeds, the declaration of how every Phoenician feels when it drops below ninety degrees, exclaims our raw emotion for the love of this season.

We made it.  Is she reading our minds?

Adele continues with, “Hello from the outside.”  She just gets us. We can finally go outside and appreciate what a beautiful city we live in. Hello, fall. Hello, Phoenix. We don’t have to stay inside. Anymore.

You were well worth the wait, just like Adele.


— Here are a few fall pictures I snapped from around Downtown Phoenix  —

PHX Fall

PHX Fall

PHX Fall

Love,

Britt x

Almost Thirty: Memory Lane Part I

Memory

Sometimes I get a little sentimental about the days before I was diagnosed with cancer. Often times it’s when I am relaxing my achy soul in a steaming bubble bath while Patsy Cline cradles my heart with her soothing songs in the background. Drifting into another lifetime, the thought of the long-standing side effects of chemotherapy are not lost upon me. “Chemo brain” is the common lingo used to describe the forgetfulness, where some cancer patients like myself are greatly impacted. That combined with the lethal pain management medication, it becomes easy to have left your mind in an unknown place.

If memory serves me right (pun intended), I used to be as sharp as a tack. A memory of an elephant and the ability to recount the tiniest of details was a knack I thought I’d never shake. Admittedly I see now that I took it for granted. Throughout my school days it was not unusual for me to retain everyone’s name in every single class, whether we spoke or not. It was a part of my charm, even perhaps making others feel special every so often. Maybe?

Then cancer entered my life. I started treatment and one of the initial impressions of chemotherapy, aside from the physical elements, was feeling detached from my mind and memory. Spacey would be an understatement of how I swiftly felt as my treatment proceeded, leaving me to barely recount short or long-term cognizance.

From there it trickled down and sanctioned me into thinking about where my life is presently and all of the hopes and dreams I still have for myself. The floodgates to the inevitable neatly seep in and take over, with mortality becoming the forefront of every  foggy thought. In the midst of the flood, something happens and like a life vest, my memories suddenly save me. It can be triggered by a text, a picture, a song or even a smell and all at once, just like that, I remember. I remember why I fight so damn hard everyday to beat this cancer, to reclaim my life. The memories provide the sunshine when the path is too dim to see what’s ahead. And soon, I will be able to say that I have 30 years full of magnificent memories and have been blessed with such a colorful life.

As my 30th Birthday approaches, I am going to take a trip down memory lane each day and share some of my life’s most precious moments on  Be Still My Heart Blog. Life should be celebrated and while I continue to kick cancer’s ass each day, I will always have my blog to look upon and reminisce, giving me the fuel to continue to fight for my future.

Enjoy this gem of Steve and I on a trip to California and check in as I look back through the years…x

Love, Britt x