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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.


As One Chapter Closes...

Natalie Moser

As one chapter closes another begins.  This Friday (tomorrow) will mark my sixth of six chemotherapy treatments.  That's right.  My last one.  I can't believe it.  I'm thrilled by it and concurrently I'm more anxious and filled with mixed feelings than I have been thus far.  You see, I handled chemotherapy like a champ.  Truly.  Minus some side effects, which I'll leave for another post, I did so much better than I thought I would.  I kept teaching yoga.  I kept taking yoga.  I kept shooting though I wasn't actively marketing my services. I actually gained weight (whether this is a positive or not depends on the day).  I lost my hair but did pretty well with my beanies, scarves, and most often with my bare head.  I felt mostly optimistic and though I didn't have my normal energy, frankly, I felt pretty good... most of the time.  Honestly.  My kids fared well through it all and the concerns my son had about me wearing a wig (he wanted me to wear one when he first discovered I'd be losing my hair) receded (for lack of a better word) until when I actually tried to wear a wig, he told me it looked weird.  I must admit it felt weird, too.  For me, wig-less with a smile was a much more comfortable, natural and freeing way to be.

More recently, I have been feeling the expected cumulative fatigue from treatment in my muscles.  I certainly don't feel 100% but instead feel tight and as if I had run a 5k the day before everyday (trust me that I haven't run a 5k in quite some time). ;)  In yoga this week, I felt more physically tired and weaker than my normal self.  One of the hardest parts of this awareness comes when the storyteller in my head begins to create the narrative: "You won't feel better than this... so, enjoy it.  This next round will make you weaker and then you will have surgery.  Then you will not be the same body practicing in this way.  The way you felt while practicing when strong in your body, your whole body, is gone.  You will never quite feel that feeling again." I listen for a moment and acknowledge the truth in the narrative.  Then though, I consider how our bodies are transforming, how we are transforming in every moment.  Through aging, practicing, injury, strengthening, surgery, resting, etc. we are always changing and really we can never be where or who we were before.  Nothing new here.  We cannot spend each day grieving for our past state of being or we will have no time to be fully present in our current state of being.  So, I just have to be patient with myself, wait for stillness and see what's possible, see what reveals itself, and what light will be shed in the moment. I quiet the voices in my head though they keep raising their hand asking for my attention.  

I'm reminded of looking in the mirror while practicing yoga a day or two before I started chemotherapy and before the first chapter really commenced.  I consciously made an effort to thoroughly enjoy my "pre-chemotherapy, pre-treatment" body in its wholeness and vitality.  I drank it in.  I remembered back to my high school years when I danced all the time... when it was my life and my love.  I remembered back to when it was taken away from me by circumstances beyond my control.  I remember that by the time I got back to dancing again many months later it just didn't feel quite the same.  I remember how much I LOVED performing on stage and how I don't remember which performance was my last one.  I grieve for not being fully present and drinking that performance in so many years ago-- the lights, the excitement, the audience, the exhilaration, and the getting lost in myself, in the music and in the dance.  This time around, blessed with this little wisdom, I made a conscious effort to sip enthusiastically in the knowing, in the moment before the storm, in the feeling I felt at that time.  I am at peace and feel blessed by this realization and the subsequent purposeful awareness that followed.

The end of this early chapter, of course, also marks the onset of the next one.  The next chapter is more invasive.  More body altering.  More life altering.  The next chapter will begin with a bilateral (double) mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.  I don't think I will quite be able to wrap my head around this until it is done and I look down.  Until I can't lift my arms up for a while.  Until the breasts that I nursed my children with are no longer with me, are no longer willing recipients of my mom humor about the "life being sucked out of them" long ago, having to tuck them into my bra and bathing suit.  All gone.  Replaced with expanders initially and later, after a still unknown time and unknown treatments, replaced with breast implants.  I do find it it somewhat amusing that I, the person who on more than one occasion said that I never imagined I would want breast implants, would be getting them.  I never imagined that I, again after being very self assured that I would likely never have one, might also possibly end up getting not one but possibly two tattoos (depending on how the nipple portion of the surgery goes)... another "to be determined" note in the chapter. 

The unknowns are incredibly challenging.  I like to know.  I like to have a plan.  The reality is that I can know only as much as I can for now and then I must let it go.  Little to no control.  But, such is life.  We really have so little control of the outer transitory world.  I can really only control the way in which I shift my perspective and pay attention. 

I have so much gratitude for so many people that have supported me and have shown up in various ways thus far and who I know will show up in similar and new ways as this chapter reads on.  I have full faith that their loving kindness will continue to shine upon me.  I am alive... in so many ways. I am so grateful.

When I look in the mirror I'm reminded of this most recent chapter.  I see a woman with no hair but with so much heart.  I see a human being who is vulnerable to the world... its challenges and joys.  I see a person who fears, hurts, aspires, feels immense joy and gratitude and who will attempt to dance forward into this next page, settle in for some time, have my chest and heart opened (literally and figuratively), and become externally altered and internally changed, as well.  Still, at my core I am shining.  With my medical team, my family and friends... I am strong.  I still see the opportunity in the challenge and the transformation.  It is hard to let go of one's expectations, of one's vision of how things should be, but that letting go makes room for new potential, new lessons learned, and more knowing.  I am open and (just about) ready.

In light and pranabundance (an abundance of energy and life force),


PS: Here are just a few memories over the last fewmonths.  :)

Let the Healing Begin.

Natalie Moser

Today I begin chemotherapy to heal my body of cancer.  I look to the darkness of chemo, its chemical concoction and its challenging side effects, to meet the shadow of my cancer face to face.  Darkness and shadow will meet, will tangle, and will ultimately at some time in the future be overcome by clarity and lightness.  I have faith that this journey will be both challenging and, in the end, life affirming. 

The strength of my family and friends, my faith in the oneness of all things, and my breath and wild heart will get me through.  Thank you for your love.

Here's a little Mary Oliver (my favorite poet) from her Cancer Poems to take me into this day.


I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

So why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

It's time to get started.

(Photo by the lovely Leigh Miller.)

I Have Cancer.

Natalie Moser

I feel a lump in my left breast. Nah... I'm sure it's nothing.  I drink too much coffee and eat too much chocolate; I'm sure it's that.  I mean, my goodness, I'm 39 years old, I eat organically, I practice and teach yoga regularly, I have a mindfulness practice, and I feel good.  I'm the healthiest I've been in my whole life. I'm a little bit tired but what mother of two elementary aged kids isn't tired?

But (...feeling around some more...) that really doesn't feel right.  You know what, if I just sit here and be still, and close my eyes, and focus on that space in my chest without even touching it at all... yes... right there... something feels foreign.  It feels like a shadow in my breast.  It is a very real feeling.  Something is there that wasn't before. Something foreign is present with/within me.  I know it. But hopefully I'm being ridiculous and a hypochondriac.  Yes that's what it is.  And, because I know my body regardless of what my mind is telling me, I'm making an appointment with my OBGYN.

These are the thoughts and actions, which precipitated my next three weeks of doctors appointments.  First a mammogram and ultrasound, then a stereotactic biopsy (mammogram guided needle biopsy), then the results...

You. Have. Breast. Cancer.

The "results" appointment had been entered on to my Cozi calendar app the previous week layered in between dropping the kids off at school, and a pep rally rehearsal for the new Equinox studio grand opening coming up the following week. How do you schedule an "appointment" like that?  How do you wrap your head around the idea that you are seemingly fine right now and you might either be fine at noon on Friday or... your life might just be turned on its head.  How do you practice or prepare for this type of potential life inversion?

It has been a spectacular year on so many levels.  I mean, it has certainly had its low points (a surgery around my birthday to have cysts removed from my ovaries wasn't exactly the kind of relaxing time in bed that I was hoping for but... no big deal.  And, totaling my car wasn't exactly the best moment... but again... what are you going to do?  We were all safe.)  The last twelve months have brought me so much transformation, connection, and joy. From heading with the family to Florida to see the kids' 89 year old great grandma (and one of my favorite people) who my five-year old daughter had never met, to connecting with many extended members of my birth family (what a blessing.. the biggest really), to finally beginning and completing my yoga teacher training program (which I'd been wanting to do for over ten years... you know how it is... there just wasn't time), to meeting all of the incredible people along that road (love you OMies), to photographing many of my clients' beautiful events and moments, to heading to Chicago with the family to stay at the home of my birthmom and her wonderful husband and meeting my half siblings who are FULLY wonderful, as well, to dancing for a brief glorious moment with Riley on the wooden floors of the spacious old Chicago Stock Exchange as another little girl serendipitously began playing on a grand piano (more on that moment in another post), to having time with my parents who are always there for us, to absolutely loving teaching yoga within great communities, to spending time throughout with my friends and family who I am so supremely thankful for. The point is... it has been a twelve months for the books. 

This transformational year has been lifted for me by much reading on spiritual pursuits, poetry, and philosophy (thank you OnBeing podcasts!).  I have never in my life felt more centered and present.  So... back to the cancer.

Yes, I have breast cancer.  It is not a rare form and should respond well to treatment and then surgery.  I will begin preoperative chemo in the next week.  I will lose my hair a few weeks after that (my high forehead is going to be expanding and making itself at home). I will be on this part of my treatment journey for around five months.  The next leg on the road is surgery (more on that later).  And from there... we'll reassess and see what's next.  My beautiful babies and my amazing husband will need the support of our family and friends and so will I.  I'm not much for accepting help but I imagine this is one of the things that this journey will reveal and transform within me. I will survive and I will be stronger for it.  My family, friends, doctors and community will help to lift me up and I will have so much gratitude.  I will be vulnerable and authentic.  I will be scared.  I will be tired.  I will be supremely optimistic... until I'm not... and then until I am again.  I will write and share my journey.  I will hide for a bit.  I will laugh big belly laughs and I will cry big elephant sized tears.  I will give and get big glorious hugs.  I will take pictures. I will teach yoga.  I will practice yoga.  I will practice being me in many unexpected scenarios.  That me will change and I will be transformed... like we are every day when we pay attention. 

I hope and expect to share more of my journey here along with poetry, music, and whatever is moving me but I make no promises about the frequency of that sharing.  I leave you with this quote which I hope will help set the tone for this leg of my trip here on earth. 

"When people would talk to me about, "You're gonna beat this," or "You're gonna slay cancer," or "You're gonna"--- I would say what I'm gonna do, hopefully, is become more of who I was meant to be.  And cancer has given me this huge, dramatic, turbulent opportunity to do that.
-- Eve Ensler from her On Being interview with Krista Tippett.  (

(Photo credit to the lovely Leigh Miller)