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Blog

Thanks for visiting the PRANAbundance blog.  It is a place for explore yoga and  mindfulness, find inspiration, and to find new opportunities to conitnue or begin your practice.

 

The Day Before Thanksgiving - Remembering This Day in 2015

Natalie Moser

On this day before Thanksgiving, I have gratitude for perspective. Today I feel well, engaged, and strong. My mind is clear and sharp (well, as sharp as I can hope to be at my ripe old age). My heart is full. My body is at ease and appears to be working in harmony with itself. 

 I enjoyed spending time with family and friends in Mammoth this Thanksgiving week, 2016.  So much has happened since this same time last year when I was undergoing my first round of strong chemotherapy for breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma) .

I enjoyed spending time with family and friends in Mammoth this Thanksgiving week, 2016.  So much has happened since this same time last year when I was undergoing my first round of strong chemotherapy for breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma) .

Last year on this day I felt so sick. It was almost the worst day I've ever had. Almost. That day would turn out to be the following day on Thanksgiving. On this day last year, I had a begun one of six rounds of strong chemotherapy the previous Friday. What I didn't know at the time of my chemo infusion was that I had the stomach flu, as well. The stomach flu would run its course through every member of our family during that week. As a result of this combination of circumstances, I wasn't able to keep anything down from infusion Friday through the following Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Still, I had things to do. I had a photo shoot to shoot. And, that I did. The photo shoot that I had committed to on Wednesday a year ago today, was one that had been planned for months and when that included people who were out for a limited time on vacation for the holidays. Though I could barely stand and though I felt like I might not be able to make it, I pushed on. The shoot finished in the nick of time with a baby who was also "done" with the shoot. I attempted a smile and continued to give positive direction during the shoot, but upon its end, all I wanted to do was to be home. Trudging back up the ramp from the beach in Corona Del Mar was like running a marathon. I honestly didn't know if I would make it up that hill. But then, just in time, I made it up the hill and fortunately to the bathroom. Sweat was dripping down my face and worry was swelling within my heart and mind. But I knew I had to keep my eye on the prize and that prize was making it home. I left the bathroom and struggled the rest of the way to my car... two marathons in a span of 20 minutes. I called my husband and told him of my plight. I didn't know if I should request for him to come get me, or if I should Uber home, or if I should keep pushing on. I chose the latter and kept pushing.

On my way home, while driving down beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, I had to stop. There was no going on. Ironically, given that I have such a focus on nutrition and health, the establishment that I turned to for assistance was a McDonald's. That made me mad. However, it was all I had in that moment and it had what I needed. It had plastic bags and a bathroom. For at that moment, I did not know if I would make it home without vomiting and my goal was to get home in one way or another. So, I went into that McDonald's to use their restroom even though I wasn't going to buy something.  (I would never normally do that.) I came out and I looked for the kindest face that I could find. I found that in an employee at the counter. I asked her for a few trash bags. I let her know that I was not feeling well and I likely wouldn't make it home without using them. She looked at me more like I had some type of addiction problem, not as though I was sick with cancer. But, with kindness, she walked back to the back of the McDonald's and found two plastic trash bags. "This is all I could find," she said. "I hope this will help." She looked at me with a pained face... concerned and unsure.  Fortunately, I didn't end up using those trash bags. Still, they provided me insurance for the rest of my 30-minute drive home... that became an hour drive home... on the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest traveling days of the year.

I did not know if I would be able to make it through. They had told me that the effects of chemotherapy would be cumulative. If this was just the beginning I did not know how I would make it to the end. Always the optimist, I suddenly felt lost, and sad, and small. I made it home without incident. I gave my family a hug, I crawled into bed and I slept until the next morning. Thanksgiving morning. More about that day tomorrow.

I am grateful for the lady in that McDonalds.  I am grateful for my family who was willing me home.  I'm grateful that in the darkest of times we need only to look to the horizon for some light or maybe when we can't quite look up we can just have faith that the light is there.  The horizon might hold a McDonalds, a great doctor, healing, medicine, love, support, family, friends, another breath, and it certainly holds your (my) own inner light and energy.  

On this day before Thanksgiving, may you feel the strength and capacity to look up from any darkness or shadow in your life.  Know that there is light... it is there.  Soon you will gain rich perspective and you will evolve.  May you evolve in gratitude and keep moving forward allowing in the shadow and the light. 

We Choose Our Words

Natalie Moser

We can choose to pay attention. We notice our physical body, our thoughts, and the story that we tell ourselves. We choose the words. We choose our words. We may not choose our circumstances but we choose our words... everyday, in every moment. 

  A little practice after teaching at Equinox Huntington Beach on 8/12/16. Four months post double mastectomy with reconstruction and two months post exchange surgery.

A little practice after teaching at Equinox Huntington Beach on 8/12/16. Four months post double mastectomy with reconstruction and two months post exchange surgery.

Notice yours. If they are shaming or harsh, notice them. If they are filled with fear or regret... face them and then let them recede in the distance as you repeatedly... again and again... choose life giving words. Joy. Gratitude. Love. 

Plant beautiful seeds in your garden of intention and attention and watch your inner life flourish with abundance. Then, on the dark days and in seasons of reflection the roots will be there to remind you that you are strong and beautiful and lovely even if what surrounds your garden is not.

Four months post double mastectomy with reconstruction and I'm planting these seeds in every breath. I choose life and healing instead of fear and battling. Those words are my choice and they heal me.

Flashes and Brushstrokes

Natalie Moser

“The trouble is you think you have time.” - Buddha

Note: This is a rambling passage.  It is severely unedited.  It is not grammatically correct.  It sometimes comes out in full sentences and sometimes does not. I needed for it to come out. Read on if you like, preferably without judgement and with an open heart.  

I sit here typing.  I sit here considering briefly that tomorrow I will be 40… that today I am 39.  I consider this past year’s events in my life.  I consider the passing of time.  I consider briefly the trajectory of my life thus far. I notice.  I feel thankful, overwhelmed, sad, thrilled, grateful, hopeful, present, far away, happy, grounded, stretched, curious, faithful, completely unsure, peaceful, anxious, wounded, healed, childlike, wise, unknowing, embodied, disjointed, and open.  I feel all the things.  All of them.  Sometimes all at once.  Sometimes one at at a time. Right now... I feel them all at once.

Incoherent Ramblings on Age/Time/Life as a Canvas...

Age is a number.  The years encapsulated within this number, still ticking by, are a testament that the universe/god/God/fate/destiny/etc. conspired to create me and enable me to live to collaborate on this life— this living.  The seconds, minutes, hours, days, years are scrolling canvases touched by a spark of creation and evolved to display a many layered and multi-faceted painting, thick with layers of experience, wet with tears of both joy and sadness, dry and thin in places.  The canvas stretches to reach beyond itself to become what it is supposed to become, to be fully embodied, to understand. It is, at times, monochromatic.  Black and white for a moment, but gray when blended… swirling in confusion or moments of despair.  Then color.  Sweet color breaks through or layers on top of the gray.  In moments, in prolonged moments of eye opening golden, striking, welcoming swaths of wide brush strokes and delicate drops the landscape shifts.  At first the shift is tepid and then more purposeful, though sometimes heavy handed.  Light fills the canvas at times as inspiration from others' moments shows through and reflects.  Reflecting on the canvas.  Noticing. Opening up. It holds learnings, texts, change… change.  Change.  Learning to allow the blending when appropriate, finding the patience to let things dry and be for but a moment or for a while. What is a while? Sitting in the gray. What color am I supposed to be?  A kaleidoscope of colors at different ages, stages, locations, in each moment anew?  I am filled with light, music and expansiveness.  I am closed with fear and melancholy for a moment.  Noticing.  Growing.  Splatters, strokes, abrupt markings, blank space.  All necessary to create the creation that is ever expanding and connecting and noticing and shrinking and expanding again.  And, in gratitude, again.

This past year.  This past year I stepped up and fulfilled a calling to teach when the time presented itself.  My heart opened up and friends and students entered in.  Connections were created in mind, body, and spirit both internally and externally with others.  My children changed from five, to six years old and from seven, to eight years old.  They grew in so many obvious and less obvious ways.  Love was/is hard.  Parenting was/is hard.  My heartstrings tug/were tugged.  My love grew stronger as my marriage grew older, moving into its second decade of existence. My parents were/are with me still and my children get to grow up with them in this moment; they get to build memories and layers with them. What a gift.  Life circled in a beautiful way that I never might have thought possible, as I met my adult siblings for the first time, and they met my people.  Worlds disconnected came together as my family grew and relationships grew, too.  Colors splashed, intermingled, and a whole new layer began.  What a gift. I danced on the trading floor of the old Chicago stock exchange.  I danced in a huge, almost empty, beautiful old room... in a museum... in Chicago... with my five-year old daughter.  We danced to the notes being played on a grand piano in the corner of that room.  Danced to notes played by a child I don’t know.  My husband and newly connected family watched from the doorway.  For a few seconds.  For a brief moment.  Flash.

Then… a car accident... but everyone was safe. Another gift.  Then… I felt different.  I sensed a strange foreign darkness within my body.  I sloughed it off.  I kept noticing the feeling and I paid attention.  I can still feel that moment of. time. stopping. of me. closing. my eyes. in an effort to truly notice and pay attention to that inner voice that was quietly calling out.  I felt it.  A shadow.  Local and detectable darkness.  A black hole of energy under my skin.  It lasted for more than a few days. I reached out to my doctor.  Flash.  It’s probably nothing.  Flash. There’s something but it might be nothing.  Flash. Time began to slow. A memory of a woman, bald from chemotherapy, smiling and walking with her two young boys immediately following my biopsy.  Time felt like it began to trudge.  A glance between Matt and me.  Fear, love, and courage blending. Flash. “You have cancer,” said Dr. Overstreet as a tear rolled down her face. Multiple flashes. Darkness. Wailing. Calming. "I’m sorry."  How can this be?  It is.  This is not my story.  This is not his story.  This is not my children’s story.  It is.  Flash.  Sharing the news via phone, text, in person.  Opening up to my little world… again, and again, and again. Reimagining my story, our story.  Letting go of expectations.  Slowly things began to take shape between diagnosis, prognosis, scans, referrals to doctors, selections of doctors, a treatment map and timeline.  Breathe.  Time seemed to slow down.  Time was lost.  Time.  39. Moments were gained.  Fears that this was not the way it was supposed to be subsided and the potential for growth for all touched by this presented itself.  There is something to gain and so many enhanced and magnified opportunities to grow in times of challenge.  My chin lifted, my hair began to fall out, was cut short, shaved off, and then was gone completely.  Completely gone. My people began to surround me in prayer, positivity, and love.  My heart opened up. Swirling between joy, sadness, depression, fatigue, mental softness, strength, vulnerability, and an ongoing realization that we are guaranteed nothing but being born and dying.  The rest is unknown and waiting to be turned towards, to be born out of, to be sung, to be laughed and cried, to be hugged and kissed, and to be danced.  To be danced.  

Flash.

It moves by in a flash.  Close your eyes and take in the brilliance that is this moment.  

In lieu of battling this cancer, because perhaps I had been given the luxury of a good prognosis, I made room for it… for a while.  I held space for it.  I intended to learn from this uninvited visitor.  It was in no way a friend, but still it offered itself up as an opportunity to slow down and consider things— to pay special attention.  The darkness began to break down.  Meanwhile, the tips of my fingers and toes became somewhat numb, my nails discolored, and heart kept unfolding.  People, kind people kept showing up and connections kept being made that would not have had this darkness not settled in as an uninvited and unwelcome guest.  Flash.  Chemotherapy was done.  Six rounds.  Five months.  Done. 

Flash.

We traveled up the coast to celebrate being together. I relished in feeling whole (other than my lack of hair).  Pre-surgery.  I opened my eyes to the beauty of the fields, of my family, of a waterfall, of the trees, of the taste of good coffee and great food.  I could taste again.  

Flash.

Nipple sparing double mastectomy with reconstruction.  Clear margins. No lymph node involvement. All good news.  Presumably cancer free.  Whole swaths of time evade me.  General anesthesia, narcotics, etc. I was not present.  I began to come back.  People showed up again in love, light and in so many beautiful and uplifting ways.  

Flash. 

No radiation.  NO. Radiation.  Golden sunbeams everywhere.  FLASH.

My hair is growing back in slowly/quickly and I can now see a few gray hairs.  This surprises me though I don’t know why.  What good fortune that I get to see them grow.  Who would have thought that gray hairs could be a blessing?  Now I am looking forward and sitting in tilted stillness. This shadow will forever be in my shadow and part of my ongoing story.  This dis-ease is a forever present memory, condition, and teacher.  I will be medicating it for years so that it stays at bay.  I am so lucky to have these years to spend living.

Today is the last day of “39.”  I am blessed.  Not #blessed... but truly blessed.  The canvas stretches on into the unknown with an inconceivable palette, unforeseeable layers, impossible to believe reflections, and into the blank space.  I am grateful for 39.  Flash.  40...