I decided a number of years ago that regrets hold you back. You keep living in the I wish I had world instead of taking the future by storm.

I do have two regrets though. The first is that I did not take the opportunity to become a helicopter pilot.

We landed in Montreal in 1968. My parents had been here for a year laying the groundwork for us to emigrate to this country. We had not seen either of them for about two years. We were looked after in England by old friends of the family, Abbas and Shomeis Afnan.  I have had discussions with Fetneh about this time period. We were all in a bit of a daze. In between and betwixt as it were. Living in a strange land waiting for the future to unfold. Go to Canada. I had no idea where that was or what I could expect. My aunt who lived in Iran thought we were moving to the end of the world.

I finished High School here and was floundering around wondering what to do with my future. We had no counselling to speak of. I had no idea counselling was available for this sort of stuff through the school, and would probably not have taken advantage of it anyways. Someone suggested I get a helicopter pilots license. Sounded very sexy. I did not know anyone who was doing that. We were all encouraged to become doctors, lawyers, or accountants.  I looked into it very briefly. What stopped me cold at the ripe age of 17 or 18 was the $10,000 required to get the the license. That seemed like a small fortune to me.

Our attitude toward money is very different than the one prevalent in North America. Money is a means to an end here. I saw that amount of money as equivalent to the Queen’s fortune. I was also tole that amount was not as bad as I thought it was. I could repay it within a year by becoming a bush pilot. The serious issue with this proposition was that I had no diea what a bush pilot was and what it entailed.

The regret is not so much that I did not get the license, but I lacked the gumption to go after it. I lacked the aggression, foresight and will to do something that extravagant and let myself be defeated. The action of going after it would have, I think led to a major changes in my attitude toward life as a whole. The getting of the lecinse itself is secondary.

The second regret. My parents were very big on me becoming a doctor or an accountant. I got of science in university really quickly. So an accountant it was to be. The only class I have ever fallen asleep in was accounting. I kept floundering. This was not very pleasant. I was defeated and lacked the tools to see my way out of things.

I failed at the time to recognize my artistic side. This was hardly surprising. I was graded last in my art class in England. I just did not understand what was expected and what I could accomplish. Fetneh is very artistic. She had great talent. But the skill was frowned upon by the parental units. She was sent to secretarial school. She is now an esthetician. I am guessing her artistic side is getting a bit of work by her making people look beautiful. I wish I could convince her to start again. It would help her relax and certainly express herself more fully.

Malcolm Gladwell, in one of his books, says that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something to the point of making it look easy. I have that under my belt where computers are concerned. I am running out of time to accomplish that in creating art. I may have those hours where photography is concerned. But not in creating any other sort of art.

I have struggled with the concept of art. What is art? Would I recognize a great artist if I saw one? What is great art? I finally decided that I would just buy the stuff I like whatever it happens to look like. I would not be concerned about the critics and pundits. Just follow my own instincts.

I never dared broach the subject of becoming an artist with my parents or anyone else for that matter. It was such a foreign concept to me. Yet, I hung out with the fine art students at Concordia struggling valiently to understand what it was they trying to express through their works.

I started taking picture many years ago. It was a fitful start. Could not make black and white pictures work. They were dull lacking emotion, passion or anything that would have made them appealing. Never considered taking a course or anything.  That was also a foreign concept. Not practical. I was to become an accountant. Accountants do not take pictures.  They are supposed to be dull and boring people.

You may recall that I took the art therapy class after my operation. All my friends were terribly excited. I was revealing a side of me that had been hidden. You can take pictures and paint? What a combination. Daryl bought me a water coloring kit encouraging me to continue with the hobby. We cleared a table in the kitchen and made it the art table. Bought all sorts of supplies.

40 years of suppression took its toll. Not one piece of work came out of it. I find myself sometimes, specially of late with an idea attempting to burst out of me flamboyantly displaying itself on a piece of paper. It flounders and dies. The years of suppression have taken its toll. I am almost scared to even attempt to put brush to paper. I curse Malcolm Gladwell. I wish I did not know about the 10,000 hours. It is red herring. He is hardly to blame.

I wonder how much similar damage we inflict on our children. It is all inadvertent. We do not mean to do this. We are protecting our children from the inevitable downfall when they fail to make it as an artist. Surely that is a good thing. Here we are giving them a failing grade before they have even attempted anything. We site statistics on the low number of successful compared to the number who enter the field. We fail to see that the numbers are the same regardless of which field you enter. How many truly successful lawyers do you know? There are so many. Most live very well doing the mundane stuff that is required of a lawyer. Close the house deal.  Set up a business agreement. all done daily for the thousandth time. Sounds great. This is not a criticism of any profession. Just to point out that the number of truly successful practitioners of any profession pales in comparison to the numbers who enter the field.

We do our best as parents to shield our children from life’s little foibles. Damned if we do and damed if we don’t.

I found myself being really short tempered for a couple of weeks. It seemed to pass once the Neulasta kicked in. Maybe there was a connection?

The effects of life on the brain and emotions is staggering. I am not sure if those are the right expressions, but it seems you sometimes have little control for what goes on in your head and how it manifests itself. Everyone around you is really careful not to say anything that might upset me. Yet, there it is, the short temper coming out when the phone rings and people say stupid things to you.

One of my pet peeves is the security questions that people like Hydro ask you. What is your name? And now for security reason, we have to verify some information. Your address, postal code and phone number. All three pieces of information are public. Open the phone book. All there. Hardly security questions. I found myself getting more upset than usual at these inane questions. Also at sales people calling from Florida trying to sell me new doors and windows. Insane.

The honeymoon is over. This is a bit like a marriage. At some point you wake in the morning and realise a new normal has set in. Like it or not, this is your new life. Adjust. Get on with it.

I am not in any way, shape, or form, minimizing my plight and the chronic condition I am in. The past two weeks have really brought home the fact that it this is the future. We have to get on with our lives. This means that Janet has to get out more often. People have to be a bit less careful around me. I have to get accustomed to going for naps in the afternoon. I went for a drive this morning to buy bread and stuff for the house. Drove Leslie to her dinner party in the evening. I can do these things, and come home in one piece.

I am not being rushed to hospital for anything. I am as healthy as a cancer patient can be. My immune system appears to be very strong in spite of the cancer. No, it is not easy, but this is the new life. A combination of hospital visits to see Doctors, or get treatments. Then a week of good strong health.

The mother of one of Leslie’s friends died the other day. The mother of one of Janet’s cousins died the other day as well. Somehow, these episodes appeared more dire to me than what I am going through. Seems strange to say this, but all of a sudden, I thought, how terrible. My life went into the background. Theirs seemed so much more important.

I am making plans. Thinking of the future. It’s all good. Not that much energy to carry things out, and a bit scared about that. How can you start a project and do it only every two weeks? But there are options, and most of them can be done online.

Option 1. Become a WordPress expert of some sort. Create themes and plugins that I can sell to others. Maybe set up blog s for people. Others are doing it, and I can to. Certainly fits in nicely with my background. I just need to gain some expertise in WordPress. There are lots of books out there. Also need to become better at markting the blogs. But all that comes with practive and a lot of reading.

Options 2. Become a therapist of sorts to help others with chronic conditions. Take some online courses.

Option 3. A lot of people are pushing me into the art world. Daryl just bought me a wonderful water colour paint set, including paints, brushes, and paper. Included in the package is a free course from her sister who is a painter of some repute. I could become a painter, and incorporate my pictures, and maybe even some calligraphy. The possibilities are endless.

Al I need now is the courage of my convictions to do something. I cannot carry on like this for very much longer. The healthier I get, the more urgent is the need to do something, anything. Word Searches can only help so far.

One more thing, I have not shaved my head yet. It is thinning out, but there is still so much of it, that most people cannot tell I am losing it. For now, the hair stays.

We had Art Therapy today. Must be Wednesday.

Three people from last week did not show up, two new people showed up. Except they are not new since the moderator and one of the participants know them. Hey, how are you, long time. And so on. This is a safe place after all. Five women and me. The ratio is right again.

Today’s challenge: represent your support network. Is it internal? External? Faith based? What does your armour look like? Armour? There is the battle cry again. A subject for a different day at the sessions. No armour here, though others do not appear to have any problems with the concept.

I had a lot of trouble with this one. Kept looking for the inner child to show itself. Damn child stayed well hidden. Probably behind its armour. No, no armour here, and none for the inner child.

I took a lot of notes again. The session started with people talking a bit about themselves and what they are feeling. I was quiet. Not sure if I am ready for that yet. Which, you have to admit is bizarre. Here I am laying myself bare in a very public blog, but have difficulty expressing myself in an atmosphere of trust and safety.

There is a lot of anger. Different people expressing it. Same discussion as last week. Anger at people who do not seem to understand. Anger at the inconsiderate nature of people. Anger at being abandoned by close friends who cannot handle the change.

There is also a certain amount of condescension. A safety blanket of sorts. It manifests itself in subtle ways. An interesting aspect of belonging to a private club. We are invited to go shopping, but we turn it down. We don’t need to go shopping, we are not materialistic. The same sentiments were expressed last week, by a different person. Again, no one objected to the sentiment, or even commented. There appeared to be tacit agreement. Some of us are more empathetic than others. People are mainly concerned about themselves. Life is too short for us to worry about others. Are we being patronizing to those who are unlucky enough to not have been enlightened by having cancer?

One person talked about losing long standing friendships. The relationship has changed. Shopping is of no interest. Life has changed, but the friends are still looking for the old relationship. They do not seem to come to terms with the changes and how they will affect things.

One friend wanted to talk about the view from the other side. It was not to be. I was disappointed. Wondering what that was. I will have to take it up with my friends and see what comes out. It should make for an interesting conversation. This participant did not have the energy to listen to the other side, or the patience, or anything else. She listens to her friends talk about things that are no longer important to her, but are still important to her friends. Frustrating.

How much accommodation should we accord our friends? How much should be accommodated by our friends?

People need to do some self-reflection without it being started by someone else. I am not sure I agree with that one. We all need prompting from something or someone to wake us up. Look at us, the enlightened ones. We are self-reflecting, but only because we have been forced into it. Life would have gone on as before otherwise.

Comparisons were made to the Wizard of Oz. We keep looking externally for confirmation that we have brains, hearts, courage. All are within us, if we were only to look. There are lots of parts in our insides which take a lifetime to know. I think that is way too optimistic.

The Paintings:

Healthy Cell

She used green in her painting, even though she does not like green. Never wears it. She radiates from the inside out, drawing a cell, or is it an amoeba, or  a jelly fish. She does not know why she drew what she drew. It looks like a vulnerable inside protected by a more hard core exterior. Green representing spring, rebirth, new life. After all the feedback, and there was lots all centered on the protective shell, which still allowed the inside to radiate outwards, the participant said that what it says to her is that “I am here for you”. It begged the question, who is you? Sorry, what she meant to say is, “I am here for me”. That is an interesting thought that goes back to the original discussion we had about it being about you, and how much accommodation should be given and so on.


Water makes a return appearance. In this case it represents the friends and relatives who are there to support you. Surrounding you with calm and serenity. The oyster is her protected by the shell that is open to accept the radiation that is coming from the sun and others. Allowing her to help others and give of herself. The oyster represents purity and happiness.

A connection between the oyster and having to look deep within yourself? The expression that was used, I think was diving deep. Probably the most interesting comment of the day was given by the oyster: Give yourself permission to ask for what you need.

Strength from Within

Strength comes from within, while we are still nurturing others. Should we be more careful when communicating with others? Do we risk upsetting the equilibrium of relationships by being too open? This participant seems to think so. She painted her need to look inside for her support. Finds it exhausting to look outside. Energy sucking at ts best when you have to look outside for your strength. She painted herself as the centre radiating inner strength while protected from the outside by a thick wall. An internal light that needs protection from the  outside.

6 Circles

Six circles. She does not want to talk about her painting. Could not get into it.But she is pushed just a bit to tell more. She talks about the colours:

  • Blue=loyalty
  • Green=being grounded
  • Purple=creativity
  • Yellow=assertiveness
  • Grey=reflectiveness

There was a lot of comment on this painting. Circles leaning into one another, the colours bleeding into each other. A relationship between all the characteristics that are important to her. This has less to do with strength and support, and more to do with expectations of others. The conversation turns to support for the participant. She has done well to express herself. better than she thought. She wanted to draw balloons, but did not feel she a good enough artist to pull that off. As it is, are these asteroids colliding, or flowers?

She has grown up with negative messages, struggling to find her voice. Railing against all the negative messages that are pointed in her direction, She sent an eMail to someone cutting off the relationship . Should we cut people off? At what point? For what reason?

One participant did not wish to participate She drew three pages, participated in the conversations, but nothing abut her paintings. I hope she comes around next week. She may be robing us from an experience.

Where does strength come from. I have written about this before. Inner strength, I feel, is fed from outside support and help. Faith is definitely a big player. As are conversations. this bog which gives me a venue for dealing with thoughts. I guess that means that comments from readers are also very valuable.

Faith, Friends and Internal

My painting represents me at the centre, fed by my Faith (the nine pointed star), and my friends and relatives surrounding me. How great an artist am I! The brown stuff at the bottom is me being grounded. There was a lot of conversation around this. Maybe because I went first. Does my Faith bring people in to support? It should make for an interesting conversation, the role of Faith in one’s life. Whether the Faith in you attracts others,  or others create the Faith in you. Another day.

I said  at the beginning that there is a lot of anger in the room. Not at each other. Another item that came up was the giving nature of some of the people in the room. I asked everyone in the room if they were givers. All saw themselves as being givers, a couple hesitated a bit saying only part of the time.

The book, AntiCancer talks about the C personality. Among other things, it mentions that one of its characteristics is that they are generally givers and not takers. I brought the book in. I had made reference to it the previous week. One of the participants was reading the section, which I had bookmarked, detailing our personalities. Interesting reaction,a s one person disagreed with this entirely. Not believable, she said My cousin Ruja said the same thing when I was first diagnosed. She says it makes us more vulnerable. In a room of six people who have cancer, 6 people are more or less givers.

One person said that people would probably not fess up to being takers. Does this make takers lesser people? No judgments here. I asked a free question, allowing people to answer any way they wished to. There is a negative connotation to being a taker, but really and truly, no judgments here.

I was discussing this with Leslie, who wondered if the giving is hiding those other emotions. Could it be hiding the anger that is already there? Is it masking some other feelings that are just waiting to get out and manifest themselves?

An interesting two hours.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha