Monday, September 28, 2015

home flowers + new ways + imitating trees

Ah, to be home!
It was so precious, this cure time of 3 weeks. Yet now I am also happy to be back at home. And nice timing: the final cure days were overcast. But on the way home, the sun returned, and so I was arriving in sunhine.

One of the first things I did was: taking a walk through the garden. The Dahlias are in full bloom right now. Such an abundance of color. They look like natural art.

And another thing I already did: go and buy northern walking sticks. And then go for a walk with them. Here's a photo of that first walk, and of the sticks:

The stone structure is ancient - it is a "pause station" that dates back to the time when farmers carried things on their back. The station provides a resting place that allows to place the load on the stone bench for a while, without having to put it down to the ground and pick it up again later.

The sticks, I like that they come with blue symbols, and with a line written on them: "Wake your Walk". Which is exactly what the sticks do for me: they bring an impulse to go and explore new ways. In the cure in Waldsee, I rented the sticks for the time there and bought a map of the walking routes, and then started to try the routes. It was so good, getting to all those places and discovering the multitude of small spots.

Of course, I also could just go walking there without sticks - but it’s the sticks that make me go, that make me feel like trying and walking. And it's not a cure thing - they have the same effect here. Yesterday I drove to the Alb and parked at a place some miles from the Randecker Maar, and went for a scenic walk there that leads along the Alb rim, then through fields and forest and then along the rim again where it is open. And it was so amazing. Here are some photos:

Walking there, I was just happy from the mood and the view. And also, from the feeling of reaching out and opening to newness, to keep that cure mood - to already have made that step to get walking sticks, and be on a new trail, just 3 days after returning home.

Back home I came across a tree quote by May Sarton that spoke to me:

Imitate the trees.
Learn to lose in order to recover,
and remember that nothing stays the same for long,
not even pain.

Now, 2 more days of September. Then October is starting. And hopefully, it will bring some more walks of that sunny & xploring kind.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

ending / beginning, or: steps, birds, 1 year, and the background work

Today is the last of the cure days for me. It’s a day of finalities: the last breathing session. The last lunch here. The last walk around the walk.

This morning, I stood in my room, and then started to pack the largest and at the same time most fragile things: my paintings. The ones I created here, in the “Malraum”. The final one is the one above, the one I almost skipped after I painted the background in green/blue. While it was drying, I added the finishing touches to a mandala-like painting, and then felt: that would be a good point to end.

It was the talk with a fellow patient who was painting that brought me back to the green and blue. “Didn’t you work on another one when I saw you earlier?” she asked. “What happened to that?” – “It is just a background,” I explained.

And so my focus shifted to it again. Now I am glad for it. The green/blue one, in the end, it turned into a kind of symbol for the time here: the open horizon, the freshness of the fields, the blue of the birds that sail the sky together for a while. Like we are doing here, my fellow patients and I. The birds, they also connect to the flock of gathering migrating birds I saw last week, close to the “Rohrsee”. I went there once more, but they are gone now. Which fits with the mood of this time: coming and going. The last two days were a lot about goodbyes, as the people I was close here now leaving one after another. And tomorrow it will be me who is leaving.

I hope and plan to bring some of this cure-time-feeling back home, to integrate it into my home world. Just like the painting, which will now move back home with me. Like on a journey, the coming-back probably is the most difficult step: the three weeks of cure stay, as long as it seems, is basically the grounding work for the time to come now. I made some steps towards feeling fitter and better, but it’s still a long way until I am as fit and healthy how I used to be. “It takes about 1 year until all effects of chemo and radiation have faded”, that is the rough number the docs estimate. And of the the “antsy” feeling of the nerves, it might take up to 3 years. “So patience and persistence is the key,” that’s the other main advice. Also: “Listen to your body. Trust your feeling.”

So seen like that, the time here is a bit like creating the background color and the ground mood for the time to come now.

So. Two more hours, then it’s the dinner time. And then, for my final evening, we will go into a concert: in a lovely coincidence, there’s a live event in the big church of Waldsee this evening – in the very church that is the highlight of the skyline here.

Another fitting twist: I arrived on a sunny day, and now it’s rain for goodbye. There even is first snow in the Alps. While here, seasons changed from late summer to fall. But tomorrow, the sun is supposed to return. Together with my return home.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

creatures around Waldsee

the new photo friday theme is "Creatures" - a fun way to go through my photos from here in Waldsee. Here are the different creatur-esque encounters:

On the way to the thermal spa (yes, it is that rural here)

Dragonflies, at  a small lake next to a Nordic Walking trail. There were dozens of dragonflies, one came close enough for long enough to take at least a fleeting photo:

A flock of migrating geese - that's at "Rohrsee", which is a migration gathering point (hadn't known this, but so fascinating to see those birds, and the way they navigate without map and calendar and GPS. 

And a final photo: cows. 

more creatures: photo friday

Monday, September 14, 2015

rain, sun & the surprise of walking and discovering places

Today: rain and sun and rain and sun
Today: half-time of cure
Today: starting the new week with breakfast, followed by a massage. Then some webwork time, then breathing therapy. Ah, the joy
Today: learning that I walked 12.200 steps yesterday (that’s at least what the walk app says)
Today: feeling gratitude. And this soft vibe of a deeper happiness.
Today: finally writing that blog post that I have in my mind since some days. About the surprises that happened in the first half of the cure stay.

Like: discovering Nordic Walking. I never expected to like it. And now I tried. And it turns out: I really, really like it. It’s good for me, and feels like a shoe that is fitting from start. Hadn’t expected that at all. I always have been more of a jogging-person, and brought my jogging shoes with me, planning to finally start jogging here again after the long pause. Jogging felt okay, but my left knee wasn’t all happy about it. Then came aqua walking, and I realized I still have a lot of tension in my body: “relax your shoulders” was one of the main advices of different. And the other: “pull your hip forward slightly, to create more stableness in that area.”

Then came aqua walking, and with it a slow-motion-focus-on-details-underwater-walk. Which brought the realization that due to my neuropathy in my feet- which is a common side-effect of chemo: damaged nerves in the toes and fingers, which cause an antsy / numb feeling – so due to that, I started to put my feet down more flatly, to have more “ground” with the step, instead of walking in a rolling-foot-down motion from ankle to toes. Basics of walking, that is. Which can get messed up by long times of illness and medication.

That’s exactly what makes this cure stay so important and so moving: it gets to basics, on many levels. So the suggestion of the therapeut was: “Try Nordic walking”. I wasn’t sure about that, but hey, I am here to try and learn. So I tried. And: it is really just the right thing. The walking style of Nordic is like a training for “relax your shoulders”, “focus on the walk”, and “think of that stableness”. Plus, opening and closing the hands when moving the sticks with the steps is a good training for the neuropathy in the hands and fingers. This way of walking, it fits for me. It makes me and my body smile.

And the other beautiful benefit of nordic walking: it takes me places. I borrowed a pair of walking sticks now, and bought a map of the Nordic walks. And started to try them. They are surprisingly well-chosen and easy to follow with the signs, and lead through such a variety of landscapes: fields, forests, small villages, to scenic viewpoints and along interesting areas.

They let me see the spots of beauty and amazement of this region here in close-up: the place where “Torf” (that dark rich earth) was dug from the ground, which created an own human-made landscape now with small lakes.

Or that place called “Grube”, which leads to slight hill – and walking up there, the landscape suddenly opens and you can see the Alps.

Plus, there are all those unnamed places. The place where the wood gets dark like in a fairy tale, and then opens again to new green. The place where the soft rain started to fall, and the place where it ended again and the sun came through. The place where the tiny rose-colored flowers grow.

Looking forward to the next walk already. And to continuing this walking/healing journey after the cure, back home.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

feather lake & circle inspiration fom long past & a sun painting

The lovely thing about the cure place here - beyond the cure time itself - is the region here. There's a special place not far from here, "Federnsee" - "Feather Sea", which is lake that is both scenic and has a long history. It's a place with an exceptional wealth of prehistoric findings. And it is beautiful, with a Monet-waterlily-like atmospheres. With an abundance of swans. It was fairytale-like, to be there and watch them. Like a real-life painting.

Close to the lake is an UNESCO World Heritag museum which gives an idea of the history of the place. Some of the original items they found there are on display inside of it, presevered through the time by the wetlands there. 

It was touching, to see the pieces of jewelry that some ancient artist once created, that were part of someone's life: 

There's more about the place on the museum website:
German (with photos): Pfahlbauten am Federsee

The museum also has a part with reconstructed buildings, to give an idea of that time and the feel of the settlements:

 In front of one of the huts,  you  could try and paint with ancient material. 
So I tried a sun sketch, inspired by the circular piece of ancient jewelry and by the sun that was still hidden by clouds on the way to the lake, but then was there for a while. Such a differcence in light:

Driving back from the lake, knowing that I could go and swim in thermal water later, and that there is a new week of healing treatments waiting, I felt gratitude and happiness. And I felt a lightness return.

Really, with the long time going through difficult treatments ones perception of “feeling good” started to shift, I realized: good days are those that aren’t too bad. But that kind of good is still a good distance from the “good” you once felt. And the cure gives the space and time to get a larger balance, and to overcome habits that you might get used to during the more difficult time: Like avoiding to stretch to avoid pain in the scars. Or: avoiding to breathe deeply to avoid tension after the operation. There actually is a “breathing therapy” here, which guides you to breathe deep again. And relaxation sessions. 

It's like a passager of time that leads from that place of tension to a more open place. Maybe that is why I loved the "Federsee", with its perspectives:

And here's a painting that developed a day later, in the open painting session - I knew i wanted to paint that lake moment, and started with the water and sky. Then the sun sketch from there became part of it: 

And the colors on the wall: that are the lines from all the others who were here in the cure, and visited the open painting room and painted on that wall before. Like so many things, it's a special and meaningful (and colorful) detail.  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

gone curing :) .... in Bad Waldsee, finally

Today: the third day for me in Bad Waldsee. Finally i am here, in "Kur"
Today: cloudy in the morning, and then the sun appeared - I went for a walk along the lake, and it was so lovely.
Today: finding a good wifi spot
Today: my first aqua walking session
Today: finally back to blogging
Today: happy

I will write a more detailed post in the next days, but wanted to share the first impressions from here. The days before the cure were filled with things-to-get-done and prepared, with packing and organizing, with all those last-minute-things. And then, on Thursday: driving here, and finally arriving here, which brought back the memory of my first visit:

In May, I was here in Bad Waldsee for an afternoon to get an idea of the place, to see if I like to stay here. "Bad Waldsee" means "Bathtown Forest lake", and that is just what this town is about: thermal water, cure houses, and a lake in the middle of town. Back then, I walked along the lake, and found this spot - and knew I would feel good here:

"The next time I am here, I will have completed all treatments. I will have done it," I thought back then.

And now I am here. For real. And it is sunny and beautiful.

I swam in the thermal spa already, and had my first massage - and have met several really nice fellow cure patients already.

It is so good to be here. And to think: 3 weeks of cure, of having time for me and my body and soul. Time to rejuvenate, to be in thermal water, to walk in fresh air, to walk along the lake, to be.

Such a wonderful time.


Here are the previous post: life as a journey: c is for cancer, and for courage, too

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5 days in the mountains

5 days in the mountains. I took about two hundred photos, but didn't really log into the web for the time out there, and didn't write, not even diary notes. I was just out there, after this long time of being caught in an endless list of doctor appointments and treatment dates. Yet coming back, I wrote this note:

5 days in the mountains

Open time, or rather: this open feeling of timelessness. Breakfast on the terrace. Roads we never took before. Feeling like a beginner again, arriving in a new place.

It is so good to be in France, at this lake surrounded by mountains, and then driving into the higher mountains. Being out there, in places where time is flowing slower, and the news of the world more distant.

There’s a different tune of feelings in me, after the days that I went through. In the days that I am in now. All this sun. The open horizon. And then, finally: rain. Which is okay, too: it belongs to this landscape. I stop to watch clouds, the way they move. And see an eagle, soaring up there, in this valley of larger dimensions.

The pass is foggy, but just minutes later, in the valley towards Briancon, the skies clear. I think of the breakfast conversation: “It’s raining but it’s a good day. Every day without doctor date is a good day.”

This feeling of freedom. I could catch a plane and fly to New York for some days, if I wanted to. Could just do it. And the thought: I should do it, at some point. Do those things I tend to postpone. Make time for them.

Because you never can know.


And because it was so good to be out there - out in the mountains, out on the road, out of news and schedules - we will we go on a lil' short trip today.


Here's a short version of the trip in photos:

on the road

our breakfast view at Lake Annecy

watching clouds, and seeing an Eagle (not in the photo :)

mountain butterfly

from mountain to mountain: Mont Blanc view

What the old tree said

What the old tree said 

There is an old tree standing beside the road that runs through this valley, it’s just standing there, not able to move, locked to its place with its roots. As I cycled past it, I thought how sad it must be to grow old near a road like this, to see all the others travelling past you, day in and day out, while you aren’t able to move, while the only thing you can do is to waive your twigs in the wind.

 But the tree smiled at me without any trace of jealousy, and said: “moving and travelling ain’t the same thing, you know. It’s your body that does the moving, but it’s your soul that does the travelling. That’s why it is possible to move for hours without travelling an inch, just as it is possible to travel beyond the horizon without moving a foot.”

I don’t know if that’s true, but it somehow sounded right to me, even so it’s just what an old tree said.


This road memory, it was brought back by driving along the same mountain road again, and by the "Tree" photo theme.