This is a guest post from an amazing woman whom I have been following for some time through her personal blog (Adventures in Spiritual Living). This is no ordinary journey however; but one we might each be involved in one day; and if you just need a little more positive inspiration in your life then read on … thank you Marie.
My unexpected excellent adventure
My most recent journey included new foods and ways of eating, interesting activities, magical new relationships, surprising sources of help when I was lost, unplanned side trips, and some physical exertion. Though I relied upon guides for much of it, the journey also demanded that I tap deep into myself to draw upon skills and resources that I didn’t even know I had.
For me, these are the elements of a fabulous trip. Though I can never seem to plan trips like that, I love when they happen and marvel at the serendipities.
Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
– Kurt Vonnegut
My most recent travel experience was unplanned: Entering into the world of cancer has truly been a trip of its own.
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer. Embarking upon this journey, I experienced fear and worry in the unfamiliar territory. I relied on my doctors as my guides and I followed the standard guidebook: I had surgery, did chemotherapy, tried radiation, and did more chemotherapy.
Regular Life again?
When treatment completed, I returned to my regular life, to all that I regarded as normal and everyday.
In essence, I travelled to a new place, saw the sights, and brought home photos. Nothing substantial shifted inside me, and that was fine with me.
Then the cancer returned. The doctors classified it as stage IV. The common assumption is that stage IV cancer means you die. I didn’t want to head there so started looking around for other places to go. I learned of others who had been healed or, at the very least, lived with cancer for a long time. I decided to choose those destinations.
There are plenty of stories of stage IV cancer survivors, but each of them took a different route. I realized that if I wanted to reach my destination, I would have to carve my own path, and possibly define my own destination.
It is not down in any map; true places never are. – Herman Melville
To educate myself, I read books and watched videos that focused on healing. I attended workshops at places like the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA (USA) to learn healing methods from teachers, such as tapping from Donna Eden and a mind-body approach to healing by Douglas Brady.
Time for more positive action
When I began to accept that I really was now in cancer-land, I started to explore the food. Any-time I travel, I enjoy not only the restaurants but also going to the grocery stores and learning to prepare foods in a new way. So in hindsight, it was natural for me to start by experimenting with food. I learned about raw foods and macrobiotics. I researched new sources of foods, like community-supported farms. I began juicing every day and practising new ways to prepare foods. I learned to love these new foods for what they are and how they can help me. My favourite snacks became sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat groats, thinly-sliced raw cabbage with olive oil, lime juice and a bit of sea salt, or home-made hummus made with sprouted chickpeas.
As with any excellent trip, the more I immersed myself in the culture, the more unforeseen opportunities unfolded. I found amazing acupuncturists, worked with a gifted yoga teacher, and attended religious healing services. Among other things, I practised tong ren, energy healing and sound work. Valuable side trips included meetings with a Vietnamese doctor in Vermont (USA) so that he could feel my pulse and prescribe the herbs for Chinese teas. I regularly met with a woman in Rhode Island (USA) who advised me about herbs and tinctures.
My path involved infusion centres, surgical rooms, emergency departments and radiation tests. I spent days in hospital rooms where the windows wouldn’t open, sometimes where there was no window. There were weeks on end when I couldn’t move to get even a glass of water on my own. Doing without fresh air and water deepened both my appreciation of these basics and my empathy for others who cannot access those.
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. – Bill Bryson
When I woke from one surgery, I felt an inner call to go to Lourdes, France, and then again heard that call to return one year later. I experienced the same call to visit John of God in Abadiania, Goias, Brazil. For both Lourdes and Abadiania, I initially tried to ignore the call or push it aside, but it would get louder and louder until I acted on it. Then once I followed each call, life opened up to me in ways that I could not have anticipated or orchestrated.
Richness of travel
My travels are richer when I connect with others, and it is true of this trip as well. I met fellow travellers, each of us creating our own path to our ideal destinations. We share stories and our views of the beauty we see. I am grateful for meeting new friends and for the fresh air they bring into my life. Old friendships take on a new depth as they walk this path with me when they can, and shine their light on it when the path is mine alone. Each of them challenges me to change and grow in love.
The only journey is the one within. – Rainer Maria Rilke
When my world feels too small, I do something for someone else. Doing something to make a positive difference for someone else reliably expands my world as it connects me to others.
The route is seldom easy
There were times where I felt lonely, but when I could avoid feeling sorry for myself, the solitude allowed me to travel into myself. I spent endless days lying in bed, watching the clouds slowly morph and move across the sky or escaping into dreams while my body heals. When I could move again, I realized that I postpone far too many things that I want to do. Now I aim to do what I can, when I can. For example, I took rowing (sculling) classes, something that I have always wanted to try. I started writing, which helps me to understand more of myself and reveals amazing sights on this path, sights that I can easily overlook.
Looking more carefully at these sights, I could suddenly see the face of God in new ways. Paying attention in this unfamiliar territory helped me to see that God is present for me, that he is my true guide. I only need to ask for help, and then stop and listen. Staying connected with the Divine helps me to feel connected to something much larger than myself, and to know that we are part of not only a diverse world but of something much larger.
Whether or not we are in a new physical space, we are all travellers, every moment, if we want to be. I have started to learn to enjoy the journey as if I have already reached my destination.
A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. – Lao Tzu
I hope you take opportunities to dive into your journey as it unfolds, that you find it as rich as your physical trips to foreign lands, and that you learn to dance in new and beautiful ways.
Love and blessings,
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We all wish Marie the very best for the future and hope our own positive attitude to life can complement the many others who currently support and follow Marie on her “work in progress” adventure. :)
If you have had a similar experience or would simply like to comment on Marie’s post then please add your comment in the section below and if you wish to enter into discussion on anything she has kindly outlined then again feel free to discuss below