Tag Archives: poetry

Healing Light

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healing light

Yesterday I learned that one of my breast cancer survivor friends was diagnosed with colon cancer. I am so glad she chose to share this news with our yoga group before our practice.  Our sanctuary filled with healing light. We offered our hearts to our friend, and she received.

Her diagnosis is fresh, having had her colonoscopy a week ago yesterday. She’ll be having surgery this coming Wednesday. The good news is they found the cancer early enough that they can remove the cancerous section – no colostomy.

We all dedicated our practice to her. This poem is an attempt to capture the beautiful moment that Theresa, our yoga instructor, helped us create with her guided healing imagery.

We Are Light
By Vicki L. Flaherty

We are light
Pure and healing light
Here to hold you
To give you strength
To offer our love for you

We press our palms together
Rest the edges of our bonded thumbs against our hearts
Our fingers spread like rays of golden sunshine
Releasing healing power from deep within, out into the room
For you

Our energy floats gracefully to the center 
Each of our spirits moving toward the other
Melding into a single source of powerful light 
Encircling you in radiant illuminating light

Take our pure and healing light
Let it hold you
Let it give you strength
Accept our love

I’ve been transported to that place of vulnerability that comes with such a diagnosis, that place where reaching for hope is strength, where the ability to trust is a gift, where the simplest act of love brings incredible contentment.   I’m reminded of what’s important in life – my family, my friends, my health, bringing joy into the world, filling space with beauty and gratitude, embracing all the possibilities that open in front of me.

An alternative way

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Am amazing lily growing in abundance on the scorched point of Sagres, Portugal

Am amazing lily growing in abundance on the scorched point of Sagres, Portugal

I’m here with Rolf Gates and Meditations from the Mat again today. I’m on my fifth trip through this transformative book. For whatever reason, my first time through I decided to date the page when I read it. Today I’m on the reading for Day 66 and it has the following dates at the top:  2/9/2005, 4/2/2007, 11/9/2008, 10/4/2011 and now 5/2/2014. On October 4, 2011 I used a brown pen for the date – and for my underlines and notes. The reading is about Santosa, or contentment, and starts with a Yoga Sutras quote:

contentment

The paragraph below is underlined:

contentment2

My notes grab the things I wanted to take away:

  • Alternative way to move through the world
  • Shift of focus
  • Contentment from the inside out
  • Events as opportunities to grow
  • Encounter our own magnificence
  • Moments in which to shine

I imagine that this reading was a breath of possibility to me back on October 4, 2011 – that was one week after my mastectomy, and I was reeling from my cancer diagnosis and focused on healing. I was practicing leaning into not just the ‘good’ but also the ‘bad’ to find peace. Nearly two and half years later, I find I still have to consciously grab contentment if I want it. So many dark whispers trying to drown out the song.

This passage definitely touched me. A peak into my files shows that I wrote the first iteration of my poem Contentment on October 4, 2011 and it was called Santosa.

contentment3

Spring

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Chives in my garden

Chives in my garden

A deliciously warm day. One of several. Mother nature calling forth her children.

Spring

By Vicki L. Flaherty
The seed,
seeking nourishment
finds richness surrounding it and
takes inspiration from the light above.

The seedling,
breaking free,
stretches toward the sky and
shows its greatness to the world.

The stem,
taking shape,
expands into the openness and
develops powerfully each day.

The blossom,
flowering to magnificence,
touches the world with its vibrancy and
shapes the beauty that is life.

Sisters of Hope Radiating Light

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circle of light

 

Today my heart is holding Michelle, the beautiful young woman whose spirit has graced our yoga group with her radiant light, occasionally leading us in our Monday evening practice. Diagnosed before the holidays with thyroid cancer, she is having surgery today, perhaps at this very moment. This poem came flowing this morning as I sent her intentions for healing and health.

Sisters of Hope Radiating Light
By Vicki L. Flaherty

Today she is one of us.
She glows here on the other side of the room.
The wise one who usually leads from the front.

She is resilient, rooted and radiant –
youthful and vibrantly alive.
Her every movement a graceful declaration of life.

We are sisters of hope.
We form a circle around her.
Intentions of every color sit side-by-side,
as we hold her within the deepest part of our being.
Each posture we offer as a gift of strength.

Together we bathe in the calming waters of our sanctuary.
Like flowers leaning into the wind, we move in unison –
our love woven into every breath in,
peace permeating through every muscle.
Each breath we breathe together
And the hope that fills our hearts
create a powerful healing energy
radiating light.

Healing Energy

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healing energy

Today is the day after her surgery. I don’t know what she decided to have done…lumpectomy, mastectomy, single or double, implants or not…and I don’t need to know. I hold her in my heart, sending her my love, my heartfelt prayers for her recovery, my intentions for her life of health and happiness. So many memories come flooding to me today as I think about my friend M in a room at the UIHC hospital, recovering with her dear sister at her bedside. My soul smiles upon her, knowing she is moving ever closer to clarity and grace and hope in her life.

I dedicate today’s poem – that I originally wrote in the fall of 2011 after receiving a beautiful gift of flower essences, prepared especially for me by my friend Ginny, to my friend M.

Flower Essences
By Vicki L. Flaherty

My friend’s sweet hands blend the essence of flowers.
She creates a healing elixir, especially for me.

Her beautiful gift created with hope at her fingertips.
Each flower representing a need;
each accompanied by an affirmation:

Self-Heal to bring me healing —
I awaken the self-healing power within me.

Sweet Chestnut to comfort me in the darkness —
I feel a shining light through my suffering.

Hibiscus to honor my femininity —
I experience loving warmth in my body and soul.

Love Lies Bleeding to connect me with universal love —
I can bend but not be broken.

Rock Rose to address my fear —
My courage is rock-bott om strong.

White Chestnut to release my anxiety —
A calm presence creates freedom within me.

Star of Bethlehem to support me through shock —
I see my star shining renewed and whole.

Walnut to move me through this transformation —
I welcome new possibilities into my life.

Other posts about my dear friend M and how she touches my heart:

Soul touching – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/soul-touching/

Where the clouds end – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/where-the-clouds-end/

I can’t seem to let go of her – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/i-cant-seem-to-let-go-of-her/

Healing waters – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/healing-waters/

(Any WordPress bloggers know why the hotlink button on my blog might no longer be active?)

The Light

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Photo by SGAngel as featured on the 9/15/13 Presents of Presence post

Photo by SGAngel as featured on the 9/15/13 Presents of Presence post

I wrote the poem in this post for my husband. Now, as I reflect upon it, I can see how it might have taken root in my own need to hear the message. I am not sure why seeing, and believing, in our own light is so difficult. As my friend over at The Presents of Presence likes to say: SHINE ON!

The Light
By Vicki L. Flaherty

There is a light
An amazing and powerful light
That shines in daylight and darkness

The energy impacts with its mere presence
And dazzlingly so when its flame is full

Its glow reaches into the shadows
To illuminate and inspire
Filling space and time with warmth

To catch a spark, all it needs is
Belief in its inherent strength
Faith that its sole purpose is to shine

And most of all
A desire to glow brightly

The light is you

Anniversary

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About to leave the hospital after my mastectomy & reconstruction, 9/29/11

About to leave the hospital after my mastectomy & reconstruction, 9/29/11

Two years ago today, I left the University of Iowa hospital with a new right breast. I had my mastectomy on 9/28/11. I felt like one lucky girl, going home after a difficult overnight stay, with a new breast. You see, the original plan was for this to be the first of 2 surgeries: 1) removing the breast and putting in an ‘expander’ which stretches the skin for an implant, and 2) removing the expander and putting in the implant. But, I went home with the implant!

Jim and I had done our homework, and had asked my plastic surgeon about the ‘one surgery’ option. He was skeptical, lots of variables and usually not great results. However, given my mastectomy went well and I’m small breasted and was not obsessed with perfect symmetry, the surgeon thought putting in the implant with the mastectomy was a good option. Poor Jim, though…he was approached in the waiting room by the plastic surgeon as the oncologist was competing the mastectomy to decide what kind of implant!

We had not really spoken much about saline versus silicone since we thought I had months to decide.  Once I had said I like the feel of the silicone implants. It was that day when I had my ‘before’ photo taken and there were boxes of implants sitting in a corner of the room and I’d felt inclined to feel them.

So today I am celebrating my one-surgery journey and my return to great health, and all I’ve learned through my experience. I feel somewhat wiser, calmer, more connected with what’s important in life. My heart is singing!

Thought I’d share today’s poem because it will take you through those days 2 years ago…it’s a long one!  🙂

Flashes
By Vicki L. Flaherty

Memories like a photo collage,
fleeting pictures in my mind’s eye
one image moves to the next.

At early morning light
stretching into yoga postures
and touching all of the prayers flowing my way.

Entering the hospital waiting room
so bright and sterile —
the reality taking hold.

A doctor entering my prep room
putting her initials on my right shoulder,
a tattoo for my surgeon.

Asking questions about an epidural,
wondering why I am deciding now,
hearing my survivor friends’ voices —
“take the pain meds” —
and choosing the needle.

Relaxation filling my body
as my new IV feeds me —
“It’s going to be alright. Breathe.”
I say to myself.

Whispering “see you soon” to my family
from the hall outside of the operating room,
and then whirring down the corridors,
where it’s cool and surreal,
everything a blur without my glasses.

Being given names to go with the faces
of those moving about the surgery area,
names I won’t remember,
but thinking how nice to meet them
and asking my angels to watch over them.

Electrodes and monitors being attached,
time for a few deep breaths…
before fading into sleep.

Awaking to a soft voice asking
“Do you know where you are?”
And hearing the good news:
“They put your implant in —
no more surgeries!”

My doctor-friend visiting —
her smiling face
bringing much needed light
into the recovery room.

In and out of sleep for hours
waiting to get my hospital room;
ah, well worth the wait —
a private one for me.

Feeling like a sack of flour
moving from gurney to bed,
nausea overcoming me
when I try to move.

Ordering dinner,
despite a lack of appetite —
yum, yum, I think sarcastically:
mashed potatoes, broth, bagel, cake, jello, apple juice —
surely one of these will inspire in the wee hours?

During the quiet of night,
comforting myself in the love bathing me,
knowing my family is sustaining itself
with much needed sleep.

Celebrating at midnight
my first trip to the bathroom
without “the bucket.”

Even taking a short walk —
today’s version of a marathon is:
teeny, tiny, slow, slow steps about 20 feet.

Sleeping in spurts,
constant visits from nurses —
vitals to check,
meds to administer.

Waking to “the day after surgery”
and a new day of recovery —
my rebirth beginning.

Eating my first solid food:
Angel food cake —
how symbolic?!
The delicate bread
reminding me of birthday cakes past,
Mom and Mother-in-Law.

Rejoicing in my family reunion:
Holding my husband’s hand
having his strength to carry me.

Seeing Mom and Dad smiling
filled with delight
their girl has her color back.

Hearing the long awaited words:
“Your discharge papers are ready.”
Being wheeled away from room 4645,
into the warmth of the fall Iowa day.

Thinking life is good going home,
as memories of the past 48 hours
begin to fade into the light.

The darkness is an anchor

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Port13 419c

One of my fellow blogger friends posted a poem, A Dark Thing Inside the Day, on her lovely and inspiring Radiating Blossom site today (thanks, Carol). Linda Gregg’s piece of art really resonated for me – I have no idea the meaning it had for her; no matter, she’s touched me.

As I sit on the cusp of the 2-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgeries (lumpectomy on 9/7/11, then mastectomy 9/28/11), and cope with the fears that seem to spit up days before my annual mammogram, I found special meaning in the poem. My deliciously abundant life – blessed with a wonderful husband (I love you, Jim Hogan), a family full of love and lightness (thanks Mom, Dad, Mike…), an awesome collection of inspiring friends, a wonderful home where I am nourished and comfortable, a challenging and satisfying job, and fantabulous vacations (just back from two weeks in Portugal) – is like strokes of bright and beautiful pink coloring over a deep, dark purple spot. I find it significant the author says “The thing is hardly  visible (a lot like mostly a heart singing?) – it is not completely hidden. It’s there. It lingers. Not quite haunting. Like a haze that passes over from time to time (like the clouds that swept over the coast of Portugal one morning as we headed to the beach – photo above).

One might think cancer haunts me. No. It’s not like that. It’s more like an anchor. A counter weight. Something that keeps my life in balance. Blesses with me with perspective, understanding, grace, clarity. Something that holds me in place, in peace.

Noticing

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courtesy of danesculptor.com

courtesy of danesculptor.com

In yoga, our guide sometimes reminds us to notice the sensations in our body – usually during a resting posture that follows a more strenuous posture. I notice how my muscles are fatigued, or how my heart is thumping a bit from the tension of the preceding posture…maybe I notice the pressure on my hands or the feeling of my toes against the mat…

After my mastectomy, I was in high gear for noticing, as the poem below from my book describes. Then as the months moved on, there was less to notice. But, even a year later, there was always a pull, a tension, a tingle, something…I often felt the need to massage the scar across my breast or under my arm pit where the lymph nodes were removed (wonder what the folks in the gym thought when I did that…). Sometimes my pectoral muscle, which holds the implant in place, felt tight or somehow seemed burdened by its additional responsibility.

However, this weekend, when I slowed down (you have to slow down enough to notice stuff!), I noticed how I was not having any sensations in my right breast, where I have the implant. In a good way. It’s like the skin has done it’s stretching and the muscle has adapted to its new friend. When I pause to notice the sensations, there is no difference between my left and right breast. From what some other survivors told me, I wasn’t sure that would ever happen. I’m delighted that it has. A great way to celebrate the upcoming 2-year anniversary of my mastectomy surgery which is coming up next month (9/27/11).

Noticing
By Vicki L. Flaherty

I noticed how glad I was to get the bandages off.
I noticed how cleansing it felt to finally take a shower.
I noticed how freeing it was to have the drains removed.
I noticed how I reached back to brush my hair the way I like it.
I noticed how I made the bed without exhaustion.
I noticed how the discomfort under my arm disappeared.
I noticed how taking a walk did not tire me.
I noticed how my arms were extended to the sky during yoga.
I noticed how the scars changed from dark to light pink.
I noticed how the tingling sensations occurred less often.
I noticed how the skin of my breast was not so numb.
I noticed how I am not noticing anything anymore.

© 2012 Mostly My Heart Sings

Bayram…holy offerings scattered throughout life

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I loved the poem below that was shared with me by my dear Turkish friend, Resmiye, about Bayram written by Can Dündar. I haven’t seen Resmiye in quiet some time – she is nonetheless bayram to me. I hold her sweet smile with me and memories of her kindness and love are etched in my heart.

She says Bayram is a word that describes in short “holiday”, but it is more than holiday. In Turkish context, it includes embracing a sense of celebration, enjoyment, collaborative festivities, renewal of relationships, forgiving past wrongdoings, establishing peace and connection, among other things.

Bayram by Can Dündar

With time, the realization arrives: bayram is more than a opportunity for vacation squeezed into 3-4 days… Holy offerings scattered throughout life randomly may bring the spirit of bayram day in day out to those, capable of recognizing and appreciating them.

* * *

To breath is bayram for example: when you can’t someday, you appreciate it…
Ever lasting darkness teaches what a bayram it is to be able to see; being alone teaches being able to love…
Every organ that doesn’t talk to you is bayram.
It is bayram to be able to move around, to be able to control your body and mind, to find one’s path in life and be able to say “Thank goodness, we’ve arrived at today safely” …
Every day you spend with your loved ones is bayram.
To forgive and arrive at peace, to reach out for a hug after a long trip, to speak after a period of silence, each is bayram.

* * *

To complete a building, a book, a school, a nightmare, jail time, each is bayram.
To come to the end of a night full of pain in intensive care unit or to sever a gangrenous relationship, as well. To long for a loved one is also bayram…
To receive a letter, anxiously awaited, from your loved one, to hear their voice unexpectedly on the phone, to wrap your arms around the one who you’ve been longing for, each is bayram.
To find a loaf of bread when you are deadly hungry, to find room on the chest of trusted one when you are anxious, to knock on the door of a friend, when you are in need of help, each is bayram.
A gift you find in a surprise package, the blanket laid over your body during a brief nap, your mother’s hand traveling over your hair affectionately, each is bayram. To be able to say “I trusted him, he deserved my trust ” is bayram. Never having betrayed is bayram…

* * *

To learn a new word, to come to the end of a tunnel, to push aside a task and go on a long trip, each is bayram.
To face big challenges by yourself, to rise up against injustice when needed, is bayram.
The cotton curtains put up in a new house, the first earning framed up on the wall, shaking hands while paying off the last share of a long term debt, each is bayram.
Company’s breath at home ending loneliness, lover’s kiss meeting you at the door in the evening, a hand in love traveling over your skin, each is bayram.
A child’s scream in the yard, his first tooth erupting, first word uttered, first step, first scribble, first report card, each is bayram…
To start a day with a smile is bayram. “I am glad you are with me” is bayram, “I have no regrets” is bayram…

* * *

To age graciously to see your children grow up to find their own happiness, to go home every night with a full sack of produce, to chat with neighbors in front of your house, to steep tea with a never-aging enthusiasm, each is bayram.
To look at photographs frozen in time with no regrets, to reread books underlined many times with the old aspirations renewed, to face your activist friends with no embarrasment, each is bayram.
To age with no shame and embarrassment, to die upright like a huge oak tree, is bayram itself…

* * *

If you can appreciate all this, every day you live, every breath you take turns into bayram. Don’t worry, because you if do, nobody will call you “insane”. Even if some does, this insanity is much better than the unappreciative sanity of those who suffer through the post-bayram days.

 

In Turkish:

Zamanla anlıyor insan: 3-4 güne sıkışmış bir tatilden öte bir şey bayram…
Hayata rasgele serpiştirilmiş ilahi ikramlar, kıymet bilen kullara her daim bayram yaşatır.
* * *
Nefes almak bayramdır mesela; günün birinde soluksuz kalınca anlar insan…
Görmenin nasıl bir bayram olduğunu karanlık öğretir; sevmeninkini yalnızlık…
Sızlamayan her organ, hele de burun direği bayramdır.
Bayramdır, elden ayaktan düşmemek, zihinden önce bedeni kaybetmemek, kurda kuşa yem olmayıp “Çok şükür bugünü de gördük” diyebilmek…
Sevdiklerinle geçen her gün bayramdır.
Küsken barışmak, ayrıyken kavuşmak, suskunken konuşmak bayramdır.
* * *
Bir kitabı bitirmek, bir binayı bitirmek, bir okulu bitirmek, kâbuslu bir rüyayı, kodeste ağır cezayı bitirmek bayramdır.
Yoğun bakımda sancılı geceyi ya da kangren olmuş bir ilişkiyi bitirmek de öyle… Vuslat da bayramdır öte yandan…
Endişe içinde beklediğinden mektup almak, telefonda ansızın sesini duymak, deli gibi burnunda tütenin boynuna sarılmak bayramdır.
En acıktığın anda dumanı tüten bir somunun köşesini bölmek, korktuğunda güvendiğine sarılabilmek, dara düştüğünde dost kapısını çalabilmek bayramdır.
Bir sürpriz paketinden çıkan hediye, tatlı bir şekerlemede üstüne serilen battaniye, saçlarını müşfik bir sevgiyle okşayan anne bayramdır.
“Ona güvenmiştim, yanılmamışım” sözü bayramdır.
Hiç aldatmamış, aldanmamış olmak bayram…
* * *
Yeni bir sözcük öğrenmek, bir tünelin sonuna gelmek, müzmin bir işin kapısını çarpıp uzun bir yola çıkıvermek bayramdır.
Zorluklara tek başına göğüs gerebilmek, gereğinde haksızlığın üstüne yalın kılıç yürüyebilmek bayramdır.
Yeni eve asılan basma perdeler, alın teriyle kazanılmış ilk rızkın konduğu çerçeveler, yüklü bir borcun son taksiti ödenirken sıkılan eller bayramdır.
Evde yalnızlığı noktalayan insan nefesi, akşam kapıda karşılayan yavuklu busesi, sevdalı bir elin tende gezmesi, nice adağın ardından çınlayan çocuk sesi bayramdır.
Sonrasında gelen ilk diş bayramdır, ilk söz bayram, ilk adım, ilk yazı, ilk karne bayram…
Güne gülümseyerek başlamak bayramdır.
“İyi ki yanımdasın” bayram, “Her şeyi sana borçluyum” bayram, “Hiç pişman değilim” bayram…
* * *
Evlatların mürüvvetini görebilmek, eve dolu bir torbayla gidebilmek, konu komşuyla yarenlik edebilmek, akşamları eskimeyen bir keyifle çay demleyebilmek bayramdır.
Zamanı donduran eski fotoğraflara nedametsiz bakabilmek, altı çizilmiş eski kitapları aynı inançla okuyabilmek, yol arkadaşlarının yüzüne utanmadan bakabilmek bayramdır.
Alnı açık yaşlanmak bayramdır; ulu bir çınar gibi ayakta ölebilmek bayram…
* * *
Bunların kadrini bilirseniz, kıymet bilmeyi öğrenirseniz, her gününüz bayram olur.
Meraklanmayın, öyledir diye size deli demezler.
Deseler de böyle delilik, bayram artığı günlerdeki nankör akıllılıktan evladır.
Her gününüz bayram olsun!

Can Dündar