Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Naps, Nutrition and A Cure (!) for the Common Cold. Plus, Digesting Sulfur-Rich Foods.

I love to nap, how I love to nap!  ...And we have been having some serious napping weather up here in Maine, lately.  Given that I have two wee ones, napping is usually needed and rarely occurs, but oh! what a treat when it does.  I consider napping to be one of my primary untalents.  Yesterday, for instance, I took a two hour nap.  Then I was awake all night, which gave me plenty of time to think about what I should write this morning.

This week it's an easy one, because I have something powerful to share: The Cure For the Common Cold!  I swear to you, I went to a Children's Museum (read: germ factory) on Tuesday, started feeling sniffly on Thursday, went to parties Friday AND Saturday night, and still woke up on Sunday feeling completely better.  As part of that story, I want to relate some nutritional healing and rebalancing that has worked for me, in the hopes that there is something in all of this that you can use!

A couple of months ago, I started having mysterious stomach aches.  They came on mid-morning, generally, and were often quite severe.  This would be disconcerting in itself if I hadn't just had cancer.  Since metabolic imbalance is an inherent characteristic of all illness, and not just a worrisome inconvenience, I did not want to ignore this information.  I started with eliminating wheat, but that didn't seem to change much.  I tried dairy products, but I don't really eat much anymore so that didn't make a difference either.  Finally, I pinpointed eggs.  Now, giving up eggs doesn't feel like an option to me, so I kept monkeying with different combinations and rhythms. 

What I have found is that I cannot eat eggs in the morning, or bread, but I can eat eggs at other times of day and bread on occasion (but not on an empty stomach).  Breakfast of fish or green smoothies works well, as long as I don't add raw egg to the smoothie.  A major key, though, is adding dairy kefir, which is best for me in a smoothie.  I was eating a lot of fermented foods, including water kefir, but until I added the milk kefir, my symptoms persisted.  Thus I am advocating adding milk kefir (or perhaps milk kefir grain-cultured items, such as almond or coconut milk kefir) for gut normalization and enhanced sulfoxidation.  Read the following blurb on sulfoxidation.  One indication of an impaired sulfoxidation process is any problem digesting sulfur-rich foods.  If your urine smells like asparagus after you eat it (the asparagus, not the urine), suspect this detoxification pathway. 

(From http://www.beatcfsandfms.org/html/HealYourGut.html
Why Sugar, Meat and Egg Can Be Very Bad
"Glucose and most sugars are "aldohexoses" which means they produce a chemical called aldehyde. There is a liver filtration process called sulfoxidation, and if it is impaired (e.g. due to enzymes that have been inactivated by bad molecule such as lead or mercury), then the aldehyde will consume more of the enzymes used by sulfoxidation and therefore slow it down, causing toxins to build in the body. Methionine from eggs, meat and wheat produce poisonous H2S, CH3SH and formaldehyde from fermentation, and these consume enzymes used by the liver, causing toxins to build as well. Sugar itself requires mono-oxidations to burn it, and this process is also used to make ATP energy, therefore, the sugar inhibits the generation of ATP energy by stealing away mono-oxidation. In summary; egg, sugar and meat can cause fatigue if several enzymes in the liver have gone down due to bad molecules. The test for this condition is to avoid the "bad" foods listed above for several days and see if one feels significantly better." (Follow the link to read this organization's recommendations; I don't know anything about them so this does not constitute a recommendation, but the information above seems correct to me)

After just a few days on my modified regimen, I had dinner of fried eggs on asparagus and toast, with hollandaise, and felt fine (as well as digesting normally). 

Now, about that cold!  All of the above is related to the problem of viral load; if I am under the weather I try to reduce or eliminate wheat, dairy, and sugar (of course).  In addition, when I am sick I take large doses of sodium ascorbate, which is a buffered form of vitamin C that is extremely bio-available.  I am sympathetic to the argument that we should get all of our nutrients from food forms, but I make an exception for C (and occasionally D, in the winter), because our bodies have evolved with a deficiency: the gene that should enable us to synthesize vitamin C in our livers doesn't switch on.  Goats generate tons of vitamin C internally, making them very resilient.  Guinea pigs, on the other hand, make very little.  Hence, they are terrific lab animals because they have no internal mechanism for processing toxins.  I'd rather not be a choice subject in the rhinovirus experiment, so I take the C.  (Approximately 2 grams when I am ill). 

This time around, I added a new magic bullet: Master Tonic.  I discovered this recipe through Heal Thyself, which is an amazing website (I recommend it, but I think there is a one-time fee for membership now.  You can also "like" Heal-Thyself on Facebook and follow @foodhaspower on twitter for free).  This recipe is based on a plague formula, and I believe it.  You have to put this stuff back like cheap vodka at a college party; it goes down ROUGH!  Nonetheless, it is worth it.  Here's the formula.  I use all organic ingredients, and my peppers were frozen; my vinegar was Braggs.  I put it all in the food processor, skins and everything, and pulsed until it was the right texture.  Be careful; the fumes can burn your eyes!  You don't need to time it with the moon, just make sure it infuses for 14 days.

Master Tonic Ingredients
1 part fresh chopped garlic cloves (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitical)
1 part fresh chopped white onions, or the hottest onions available (similar properties to garlic)
1 part fresh grated ginger root (increases circulation to the extremities)
1 part fresh grated horseradish root (increases blood flow to the head)
1 part fresh chopped Cayenne peppers, Jalapenos, Serranos, Habeneros, African bird peppers....any combination of the hottest peppers available

· Fill a glass jar 3/4 of the way full with equal parts of the above fresh chopped and grated herbs. Then fill to the top with raw unfiltered, unbleached, nondistilled apple cider vinegar.

· Close and shake vigorously and then top off the vinegar if necessary. Begin this formula on the NEW moon and strain and bottle on the FULL moon, (approximately 14 days). Filter the mixture through a clean piece of cotton, bottle and label.

· Make sure that when you are making this tonic that you shake it every time you walk by it, a minimum of once per day. Remember that all the herbs and vegetables should be fresh (and organic if possible), and to use dried herbs only in an emergency.

Strain liquids from solids through muslin cloth or strainer into a 8oz. Glass. Note: the solid ingredients retain almost the same potency as the liquid ingredients; therefore, these solids can be puréed to use with other ingredients like honey and lemon to make a salad dressing or to marinate meats of all sorts. For example mixing to taste with Peanut oil makes a great sauce to roast chicken. This formula will not spoil unless mixed with new ingredients.

1/2 to 1 ounce, two or more times daily, gargle and swallow. I hear it is not only the cure for the common cold but every other disease of mankind. lol

Store your tincture in a dark place as light will deteriorate it. You can put the jar in a paper bag for the brewing and shaking process. “Tinctures last indefinitely, while herbs can lose potency within a year. Also, tinctures enter your system in seconds, as compared with dry herbs in capsules which have to be digested first.” Advised Schultz.

This tonic is extremely powerful, because all the ingredients are fresh. Its power should not be underestimated. This formula is a modern day plague tonic. It is said that when added to an incurable routine it could cure the most chronic conditions and stubborn diseases. It stimulates maximum blood circulation, while putting the best detoxifying herbs into the blood. This formula is not just for the sniffles, it has helped to turn around the deadliest diseases.

"...I designed this formula as a fresh herb alternative to Dr. Christopher’s plague formula, to be more alive, a herbal juice tonic, and believe me, you don’t want to be without formulas like this when you or your loved ones get ill; it will save your life. Make up plenty, it can’t go bad because vinegar already is, and will last almost forever..," writes Dr. Shultz.

Quoted from Sam Biser’s “The Last Chance Health Report” on Killer Viruses: A formula for stopping them when drugs fail. http://www.its-my-health.com/documents/MasterTonic.pdf

That's my health report for the week; may it be of some use to you!
See, no plague!
The Nourishing Path itself runs through my back yard

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

There are a lot of memes that circulate on Facebook about cancer.  I saw one a few months ago that said:

"We all have a thousand wishes..to be thinner..to have more money...a cool car..a new phone...to date the person of your dreams.  A cancer patient has only one wish: to beat this disease.  I know 97% of you won't post this as your status, but my friends will be the 3% that do.  In honor of someone who died, or is fighting cancer, or even had cancer...blah blah blah." 

(Well, all right, I added the blah blah blah.  I hope I can still be your friend even though I never forward.  But folks mean well, and that's what matters.)

I read this and I thought, "Hmm.  Nope, even when I had cancer I definitely still wished I could sing like Gillian and play guitar like Dave Rawlings, look like Vanessa Paradis, write like Emily Dickinson, paint like..well, you get the picture.  Serious illness may make life simpler, but it didn't turn me into a bodhisattva, for cripes sakes!

Wallace brought a book home from the library once about two small, charismatic, cuddly animal friends of some variety.  One spent all her time trying to write so that she would become a famous author, and the other tried to win a cooking contest.  Both endeavors were disastrous, and the would-be author conceded that she hated to write, while the chef ceased to enjoy cooking when it became competitive.  What they were both really talented at, it turned out, was sitting outside and watching the fireflies.  So that's what they did.

I may not be exceptionally talented at anything of particular interest to anyone else, but I'm pretty good at watching fireflies.  Here are a few of them.  What are yours?
  1. The first sip of the second beer
  2. Nailing the harmony note
  3. The woven cadences of the breaths of my sleeping children
  4. That shade of green that the lichen turns on the trees in the rain
  5. That moment right before I drift into a nap when I realize that I don't have anything I have to do for the next two hours
  6. Lying all the way back, fully dressed, in the warm, black sand
  7. The surreal gold and green of sunlit trees against a storm gray sky
  8. The moment when a dear friend, far away, actually picks up the other end of the phone after months of tag
  9. Leaving the window open at night
  10. Putting too much wood in the wood stove on a wet, cold day

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Mother Tree

Mom is at the top of the decision tree of life.  Born?  Yes-continue journey on this plane.  No-continue journey on metaphysical plane.  Survive?  Yes-see above.  No-see above.  Thrive?  Yes.   Get first tooth?  Yes.  Lose first tooth?  Yes.  Shortly thereafter, the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure of adolescence and adulthood begin; try not to get captured by aliens or eaten by a sea monster.

I believe a mother's presence remains in those brackets, sometimes consciously, but more often not.  And if we become mothers ourselves, there is that moment that we will hold our child and know, as in Tina Fey's wonderful poem:

"My mother did this for me.  My mother did this for me."
My Mom
I know women who are estranged from their mothers, but in this divergence there is an influence as well.  I know of a consultant who coaches women on speaking without using their mother's voice; I have seen my own Mother consciously choose to break certain maternal patterns with which she grew up.  Most of the time, I suspect, we are not even aware of how our mothers affect our choices.
And here's me, just a few hours after becoming a mother for the first time
And a few days later, after I had gotten a shower
The capital "B" bad decisions in my life have yielded better outcomes, pound for pound, than many of the capital "G" good decisions, but the Good decisions have had their day as well. 

"Bad" decision - To quit soul-destroying but steady job in remunerative industry immediately after getting a mortgage - I have never regretted that decision for a minute.  Not that it did not have ramifications - we sold the house at a loss seven years later after I decided to stay home with our kids - but we have been nothing but grateful and astounded at our good fortune all along the way. 

"Good" decision - To put myself in the hospital on September 3, 2010, and trust the universe to deal with the unanswered questions.  No regrets there, either, although certainly the consequences of that decision were manifold.  Such is the nature of the decision tree.

Of course, it has gone the other way, too.  "Bad" decision - Making no effort to immerse myself in the social opportunities at college my freshman year on the grounds that I didn't have anything in common with most of my classmates.  If it had not been for the dogged efforts of a few of my dorm-mates to ignore my self-absorption and superiority and drag me around, I would be adrift without my husband or many of my dearest friends (not to mention more than a few valuable lessons). 

"Good" decision - To keep an important commitment one Sunday afternoon during Winter term, senior year of high school, rather than spend the day at a party in the woods with my crew.  That one has haunted me for years; I still wonder if I could have changed my plans.

Now here it is, more than fifteen years later.  I find myself at the top of two little decision trees, wondering what the "Good" and "Bad" decisions will be for these amazing new people.  Do I dare to hope that the whispered voice of the mother-presence in their unconscious will be:

"Follow Your Dreams. 

-Except for the ones where you find yourself in a meeting with no pants, or show up for an exam without having attended the class.  Don't do that.

But all the rest of them.  Float to the island when it is time to float, but don't be afraid to grab the tree and shake the fruit off when you arrive."?

What are the seeds of the Mother-Tree?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Changing My Diet - 5 Recipes

When we recognize that something is out of balance with our bodies, it is logical to start by looking to our diet for the answer.  Often, we find that something needs to change.  Changing our eating habits is no simple task, and I talk to a lot of people who find the prospect utterly intimidating or even impossible.  It is very difficult to accomplish anything if I am feeling overwhelmed.  One of my goals with this blog is to look for simple steps towards larger goals, be they physical, psychological or emotional.  Today I would like to post five recipes that are working for me, as I attempt to move away from wheat, dairy and sugar, while living in a household with others who have different dietary requirements.

When I met my husband, he was a strict vegan.  Over the years, as we have been able to exert more control over the sources of our food, he has added back eggs, cheese, yogurt and fish.  With a B+ blood type, he thrives on cultivated foods and does not suffer from an absence of meat.  I, on the other hand, have type O+ blood, and would likely be healthiest on a paleo diet, rich in meat and vegetables and devoid of grains and dairy.  I don't know my children's blood types; one of them seems to thrive on ice cream and grapefruits, and the other loves hot dogs and kimchee. 

The aggressive steps I took to modify my diet during my cancer clearly made a difference, and I was able to tune into my body's responses to food.  There are a number of good recipes in The Lentil Challenge and 10 Simple Ideas for Modifying Your Diet, but I have five more that are working for me.  I plan to occasionally share meal ideas, be they complicated or simple, traditional or Nouvelle, to which my body (and maybe yours, I hope) responds well. 

Before I post them, let me point out that I don't intend to eliminate dairy, wheat or sugar.  If it happens, great.  Just as I quoted in my friend's comments about turning a deaf ear to the urgency of a new diagnosis and seeking for a path that fits without panic, I remind myself that indulging in these foods didn't kill me before, and it won't kill me now.  In fact, I can listen more attentively to my physical and psychological reactions to these foods because I am aware of them, and if I choose not to eat them it is a choice that feels right. There's nothing fancy about these recipes, and that's the point.  A lot of the foods that work for our bodies are simple and available, when we view the task as basic meal preparation rather than total diet overhaul!

Fish Salad

1 5oz can Alaskan Salmon
1 stalk organic celery
1 T chopped red onion or 2 scallions, optional
1/2 C fresh sprouts, such as daikon radish
Handful fresh greens, such as lettuce or spinach

Miso Dressing
2T brown rice miso
2T soy sauce
1/4C olive oil or sesame oil
2T rice vinegar or ume plum vinegar
1T grated ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic, optional
1t chile paste, optional

Blend in food processor, keeps well for weeks in refrigerator

Oil and Lemon
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t sea salt
few grindings black pepper
1 t Madras curry powder
1 T capers

Either of these dressings blends well with the salad; if using the oil and lemon dressing, the salad is also good with a mix of salmon and canned kippered herring (check the label to make sure you are getting kippers preserved in only olive oil and salt; some brands have chemical preservatives).

I eat this salad on a bed of greens, or roll it up like a tamale in collard leaves.  To do this, cut the woody part of the stem out of the collard leaf, put a few T of salad on the whole part of the leaf, fold up the tails and roll.  Secure with toothpicks.  I eat this for breakfast often.

Egg Salad

Okay, you don't need me to tell you how to make egg salad.  Make it how ever you like it.  But, the key with my egg salad, is I make the mayonnaise.  This is so easy, once you know how to do it I'll bet you never buy mayonnaise again.  Here's the recipe that I swear by, from the one and only Julia Child, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".  Read this so you know the science behind the process, first.  It helps. This recipe always works; I use a spicy chipotle oil which is excellent with eggs.

These are the ratios (from the above site, which is a verbatim reprint of the original text):
Number Yolks Cups Of Oil Vinegar Or Lemon Juice Finished Sauce
2 1 to 1½ cups 2 to 3 tablespoons 1¼ to 1¾ cups
3 1½ to 2¼ cups 3 to 5 tablespoons 2 to 2¾ cups
4 2 to 3 cups 4 to 6 tablespoons 2½ to 3-2/3 cups
6 3 to 4½ cups 6 to 10 tablespoons 3¾ to 5½ cups

  • Round-bottomed, 2½ to 3-quart glazed pottery, glass or stainless steel mixing bowl. Set it in a heavy casserole or saucepan to keep it from slipping.
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Large wire whisk
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice (more drops as needed)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dry or prepared mustard
  • 1½ to 2¼ cups of olive oil, salad oil or a mixture of each. If the oil is cold, heat it to tepid; and if you are a novice, use the minimum amount
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  1. Warm the bowl in hot water; dry it. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
  2. Add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.
  3. The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. While it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, as long as you beat constantly.
  4. Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil.
  5. After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis of potential curdling is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then, beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.
  6. When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.
  7. Beat the boiling water into the sauce. This is an anti-curdling insurance. Season to taste.
  8. If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it tightly so a skin will not form on its surface.
I store it in a Mason Jar, and I have had it separate eventually, but I have NEVER had it go bad.  Just use a clean utensil every time.

Miso Ginger Scallops with Soba Noodles
This is a modified version of this recipe, which was very popular with my little people.


  • 8 ounces soba noodles.  There are two kinds, at least: 30% buckwheat and 100% buckwheat.  The latter are more expensive, but I think you can eat them if you are gluten sensitive.  Correct me if this isn't true.
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons mirin, or orange juice
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound dry bay scallops
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced scallions


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions (about 4-5 minutes.  Use a large pot; the starch is really bubbly.)  Rinse in cold water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk miso, mirin, vinegar, canola oil, ginger and garlic in a medium bowl. Add scallops and stir gently to coat. Let marinate for 5 minutes (scallops will begin to break down if marinated longer). Using a slotted spoon, remove the scallops, reserving the marinade for the sauce.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook until golden brown, tossing, about 4 minutes for bay scallops and 3 minutes per side for sea scallops. 
  4. Reduce the cooking liquid in the pan to a paste consistency.
  5. Heat the remaining marinade separately, but DO NOT BOIL!  That destroys the active organisms in the miso.  Mix with the glaze and pour the sauce over the noodles, add scallions and toss to coat. Top with scallops and serve immediately.

This is a dish made from fermented chick pea flour.  If you have a Vitamix you can grind the chickpeas yourself.  If you don't, you can purchase chick pea flour (besan) from Indian markets, and there are good organic sources online.


3  1/2 ounces chick pea flour
1 C warm water
4 T olive oil
1 t fresh lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar
1 t salt
Roasted or braised vegetables of your choice
1 T chopped basil (or 1 t dried)
salt and pepper to taste


Whisk the flour into the water until smooth; add salt and lemon juice or vinegar.  Cover bowl with cloth and leave in warm place overnight.
Preheat oven to 425.
Roast or braise vegetables to serve on farinata.
Add 2 1/2T olive oil to batter.  Put the remaining olive oil in a cast iron skillet and heat in oven until just before smoking.
Pour the batter into the pan, add herb and vegetables and pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until crispy.  Remove from pan promptly.

Beef Stew

Stocks made from slow-simmered bones are an important source of many minerals, gelatin, and other joint- and bone-strengthening agents.  They are also very cheap to make.  Beef stock is especially inexpensive, as it is often possible to get soup bones from organic farms for between 0-$2/Lbs.  Some bones can be purchased with meat on them sufficient to make a stew.  Otherwise the stew beef can be purchased separately, but a little will go a long way in a good stock.

I start with a modified version of Julia Child's Brown Stock.


3-4Lbs. soup bones
2 onions, halved
2 carrots, scrubbed and quartered
2 t salt
2 celery stalks, with leaves
bouquet garni: 1/4 tsp. thyme, 1 bay leaf, 6 parsley sprigs, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, 2 whole cloves


Roast the bones, carrots and onions for 30-40 minutes in a 450 degree oven, turning the bones occasionally so that they brown.  Roasting the bones gives the stock a richer flavor and removes some of the sourness of beef stock.

Remove from oven and transfer to a crock pot or large kettle.  Pour out fat and return pan to oven with a bit of water to simmer; scrape up brown bits and add to pot.  Cover the ingredients in the pot with water and turn the stove or crockpot on to high just until the water begins to boil.  Skim the scum that rises to the surface and reduce the heat.  Add the salt, celery and herbs and keep at a very low simmer for at least four hours (I do mine overnight).  Beef stock should NOT BOIL, or be covered tightly.  It will cloud the broth and make it sour.  I keep my crock pot on warm, so that a single bubble rises to the surface every few seconds.  You can also prop the lid with a chopstick.  Add more water as necessary.  Strain through cheesecloth.  If you like to eat the marrow, go for it.  The stock freezes well.


1 Lbs stew beef, marinated overnight in dry red wine.  Julia always said never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink.  As I have mentioned before, the box can be great for this purpose.
2 onions, diced
3 T butter
I lbs cleaned, diced potatoes
1 1/2 T flour (if you are avoiding flour, I think you can just leave this out.  If you need a little starch in the recipe, arrowroot powder will probably work)
1 t salt
4 peppercorns
1/2 bay leaf
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t thyme or majoram
brown stock


Preheat oven to 300.
Saute onions in butter.  You can saute them with 1/2lb chopped bacon or salt pork, if you eat pork. Remove from pan.
Brown meat in fat.  Dust with flour.
Place in ovenproof dish with the potatoes, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic and herbs.
Cover with hot wine and stock. 
Cover dish and cook for 2 hours.
Add onions and optional pork and continue to cook, covered, until meat is tender.
I tend to do all of this in the crock pot; it's cheaper and I can ignore it.  I usually add all the stock, either during cooking or at the end, and adjust the vegetables to stretch it.

Since I am the only adult meat-eater in the house, I make a large batch of stew and freeze most of it, and then eat it for lunch during the week.

As I said before, there is nothing fancy here.  My guess is that you will read this and then, if you want to make beef stew, use your own recipe.  The point is to develop a repertoire (and a freezer full) of recipes that work for your diet as you envision it.  Sometimes the nourishing path is specifically about nourishment!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Birth, Death, and Bare Feet

The water is cold where my feet sink into the moss in the low spots.  The acorns are sharp.  The rocks are warm, a baby is born, and they tell us the Bogeyman is dead and drifting to the bottom of the sea. 
After Lysander was born I stopped wearing shoes at home.  We moved here in the early Spring, and I began to step gingerly from the door to the clothesline in bare feet.  The end of Summer approached and I could imagine ages past when I could challenge the burning sand, the boiling tarmac, and the rough gravel by the bike rack at the beach.  Then suddenly I found myself in compression stockings and Crocs, pacing the hospital corridors, under strict orders not to go barefoot lest I contract an infection or bleed to death from a cut on my foot.  In the trough of the wave all you see is walls of water.

Yesterday I held a three day old baby girl, daughter of dear friends.  In their exhausted glow I could see the light of that simple truth that comes so clearly in those moments: the things that matter most are within our reach, and the greater our embrace of them, the simpler everything becomes.  As I washed dishes and wondered if I felt a loss with my newborn days behind me, I realized how fortunate I am that life has handed me an extra teaching in renewal. 

When I lay in that hospital bed and invited the cancer to share its gift without destroying the recipient, when I promised my body that this wasn't a war but a rebalancing, all that was extraneous fell away.  As I continue to unwrap this present for years to come, one lesson is already clear.  I can return to my moments of triumph and crisis to find the simple things and to see what holds me back and weighs me down.  Once again, I step gingerly from the door to the clothesline, welcoming the new terrain to fragile flesh. 

A life lived well is a cause for celebration, and at its end it is only our own loss that we regret.  I do not rejoice the rumor of the end of a life lived in darkness; this is a moment for mourning the wayward paths of human potential.  I seek within myself new and more powerful roads to light and peace, that there may be more of both in the world.