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Posts Tagged change your life

Walking on Sunshine: Life Beyond Cancer

I am Light India ArieLast year, I created a music playlist on my Kindle called Walking on Sunshine.  I was playing with a bit of music therapy as a creative solution for bringing light into my life during a difficult time.  I had uterine cancer, and an ongoing, nasty story running in my head had been telling me I was going to die.

Rachel Payne in shadow and light.
Dramatic, I know.  But heads do that to us sometimes.

Mine had been spinning the tale for a few decades.  My mother had died at 45, and her father before her also died at 45.  Somehow, the script got stuck playing on a loop in my head too.  I tried time and again to make it stop altogether, but as 45 drew closer, it began to manifest itself.  So when I found out at 44 that I had cancer, I began planting seeds of sunshine in my life more rigorously.

womb doodle(This image is from my Cancer Journey journal.  
Look for today’s journal prompt at the end of this blog entry.)

The stress management playlist had a great collection of sunny songs.  I would listen to it several times a day and run creative visualizations around in my imagination…..

… What life beyond cancer would look like.
… What life beyond cancer would feel like.
… What life beyond cancer would….you name it!

My imagination took me there!

Paths to healing include will, belief, forgive, love, and have faith.
What’s Today?!

Exactly a year ago today, I grabbed my playlist, cranked it up and dressed myself for the ride to MD Anderson Cancer Hospital.

MD Anderson Cancer Hospital

MD Anderson Cancer Hospital

I was due for surgery early in the day.  I felt myself walking into a shadowy path, but I felt filled with light. The songs were alive with all the stories I had layered into them with my imagination, and I relished them like a castaway imagining the succulent meals at the end of their lonely journey.  I was feasting on the sun!

eating the light

The sunshine stories told of the life of my deepest desires…..

….Told of art shows, fabulous paintings that would bless those whose walls they graced, and connections with people who wanted to work with me on making their dreams come true.

…. Told of retreats I would teach, workshops for inspiring personal growth and cultivating connections with something within that was both sacred and creative.

….Told of a deepened relationship with friends, family, community, and that something Greater than us.

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Change Your Story, Change Your Life

I walked into the hospital feeling like those new stories out-shone the old story.  So many lovely things clicked into place to make the new stories feel like they were taking form in the present moment.

post hysterectomy

The surgery went well.
The staff was excellent.
I recovered easily and quickly.
My tests came back with GLOWING results. 

 All was well…..and still is.

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Life a Year Later:  Shadow or Light?

When I sat down to write this post, none of that was in the plans.  None of the cancer stuff anyway.

I was excite (am excited) because this is my 200th post on this site.  It coincides with a stream of awesomeness that has taken shape over the last month or so.

Rachel Payne art show

Walking On Sunshine: Life Beyond Cancer

I wanted to write about everything that was going right in my life.   When I went to type the title, “Walking On Sunshine”, it made me think about the playlist….and then the cancer….and “Wait a minute!  What is today?”

A quick look at the calendar confirmed the surgery was exactly a year ago.

My subconscious mind must have been toying with it.  Love all those sychronicities.

As it happens, I realized I have created many of my “life beyond cancer” imaginings.  That is exactly what I set out to write about.  My dreams are coming true….and sometimes more quickly than I know what to do with!  Great problems to have, huh?!

Red Tent of Houston at Women's Retreat

I am celebrating!

Last week I taught at a Women’s Retreat, then came home, hung a one woman show of paintings that I am so in love with, sold over half them, have been booked for more art classes, more workshops, more art shows, …… one thing after another is going SO right.  Did I mention, 200 posts?!

I feel like I am…..Walking On Sunshine.

Walking on Sunshine

And don’t it feel good!

Celebrating….one year, all clear!

Journal Prompt:  
What would life be like for you
if you were Walking On Sunshine?

Continue the Walking on Sunshine conversation in the Creativity Tribe Facebook Group.  I would love to support your shiny, glowing life! 

Rachel Payne life creativity coach

The Indulgent Life

meaning and magic

I have been indulging in life this year.  Not the kind of indulgence where you eat rich, spend lots, and party til the sun don’t shine.  The kind where you hold onto whatever comes your way and sap out every morsel of meaning and magic you can.

What I have held onto…

There was a birth in my circle of friends followed by lots of time with the baby, funny faces, kisses on the bottom of the feet, adventures in diaper changing, and those magical moment when you help the little one find his way to slumber land.

There have been illnesses:  calls in the middle of the night, quick trips to the hospital, surgeries and moments where we didn’t know if this loved one or that was moving closer to or further from death.

There have been second chances:  a heart made new, whispered I’m Sorry’s, choked up Thank You’s, hope for the rest of a new life given.

And there have been last chances:  families and friends drawing close to squeeze out every last bit of loveliness life has had to offer, pulling up memories of the great times, letting go of the worst, counting breaths and pills, holding a hand, stroking a furrowed brow, and in the end inviting the letting-go.

There have been celebrations….of the birth, the play, the renewal, the life well-lived.

success quote

In each of these threads of existence, I have looked for the gift.  That is the lesson I chose to learn this year, taking GIFT on as my word for 2013.  It is easy to look for the gifts in the places where celebration is the norm, but when life gets difficult and emotions are tender, being grateful and turning your eyes towards the positive takes some dedication.

And yet, that is where I am.  It doesn’t come automatically though.  I am choosing to shift my perspective.  The more I do it, the easier it is for me to understand HOW I am doing it.  That HOW is what I want to share with you next week.  Until then, I invite you to look for the gifts the difficult might have to share with you.  You just might be surprised at how much of life has something valuable tucked inside it.

Before you leave:  Check Out Angels In My Studio…the e-course

Angels in My Studio 2013

Starts soon….would love to take it with you!

Rachel Payne Life Coach

 

Breath of Life

Now for the second half of the creative visualization I did last week that helped me turn my trajectory away from a crash course with Death and aim for a life well lived.  Let’s see, where was I?  Oh yes, Death had transformed into a wise elder-woman with the tell-tale signs of many years of joy reading all over her face.  She walked away to join The Fates, leaving me with the woman who had come when I let out a call for help…..this sounds like a metaphysical soap opera.

In the mediation, I felt as if a new story was playing out in front of me.  On one hand I had a sense of what should happen.  I was, after all, working to shift into a story of healing, but I could not see how the story would play out. I was invested in the happily-ever-after but had not been let in on the script.  Every action of my own or another participant was as fresh and new to me as it might be in real life.  In fact, that is how it felt…real, authentic…as if I was living in the moment.

The helper woman stood up and walked behind me. She placed her hands firmly on my shoulders and stood me up. I had been handled like that once before in a healing ceremony I participated in at the Peace Vigil in Washington, D.C. just days after 9-11.  I remember feeling the power of having someone who cared about me support me like that. Some days I can still feel my friend’s hands on my shoulders from that first ceremony, as if they have never left me.  Feeling them again in the creative visualization connected me immediately to a sense of deep, powerful healing.

The helper woman guided my body to turn and face her. She was standing on a small mound so that I could not see behind her.  She looked me in the eyes, with love and intensity and asked me, “Do you want to see your new life?”

I offered an eager, “Yes!”

She stepped to the side.  Before me was a vast valley.  My heart sped up.  “I have been here before,” I told her.  I could feel the same overwhelming beauty in that moment that I had when I visited this place several years ago on my trip to Oregon.  I was standing at the top of Crown Point, a majestic vista which overlooks Columbia River Gorge. I started to cry.

Vista House Sunset – Time lapse from Even Quach on Vimeo.

(This is a video shot by Even Quach. The house you see in the distance is located at Crown Point State Park. That is where I was standing in the meditation. The valley beyond is what I was shown. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.)

“This is how wide open your life is,” the helping woman said.  “This is how full of possibility your life is.  No limits are placed on you. None.  And having no limits feels just…like…. this.”

The wind blew across my face, and I breathed it in as if I were breathing in Life itself.   My body shivered inside.  That place is overwhelming in the best way.  That place is so immense that it felt surreal.  I sat with it…with my new Life.  I drank it in.  I felt as if my body was quenching itself after a long thirst.  I could swear my cells were reforming, as if my DNA was actually restructuring itself.

And you know, maybe it was.

All new….new life….new possibility….new me.

 

 

Cheating Death

I faced Death today.

It is part of turning my life around. I decided a few days ago that I would change my story to change my life. The main goal: to finally be rid of the nagging feeling that I would die at the age of 45 like my mother and her father both did.  With 45 only 30 months away, I felt if I was going to change my story, this would be the time to do it!

I started by going to the place where the story lives, inside me.  Shall I take you along, as if you were there? Let’s go.

I got very still and focused on the feeling of urgency that has been following me around saying, “Girl! You better start living because you’re about to be dying!”

I asked myself, “Who is saying that!”

And I heard a voice, low and soft, down by my feet say, “Me.”

Suddenly I felt something holding me by the back of my ankles. It occurred to me that it had been there a very long time, so long that it began to feel like it was actually a part of me, but it was not. I looked behind me, and there it was, stretched out prone on the ground like a long shadow, Death.  I heard a part of myself say, “If you are going to face Death, you have to FACE it!”

So I took my hands and pulled the attachments off of my ankles. They stuck like moist tar in my hands. I knew I would never be able to shake it off alone. I got down onmy  knees, then elbows, and finally stretched myself out on my stomach. There it was, the face of Death. Breath, wrank. Eyes, hollow and vast. Suddenly, I began to panic.

Saying, “This feels real. This thing in front of me doesn’t feel like it is in my mind, doesn’t feel like it is a story. It feels real. I am holding the hands of Death….my Death. I need help. I can’t do this by myself.”

At my side, a woman knelt down.  I knew she was there to answer my call for assistance. She reached out and scooped the stick tar hands off of me. I sat back. I checked in with myself. I felt safe. I watched her.

She pulled Death to her. It changed in her hands (as it would several times over the course of our time together). It crawled into her lap and curled up like an ailing elder. “There, there,” she whispered. I felt myself relax a bit. I breathed a sigh. Death seemed less scary, almost wounded. I looked at Death. It was emaciated, drawn in on itself, exhausted.

“It has been a long journey,” she told Death. “You are tired.”  I could see Death’s story, much like I could see my own. It began with my Grandfather. Death had come for him early in life. He was a proud, energetic red-headed man who enjoyed the great outdoors. When he died, my mother picked up his story and with it, Death.  So it stuck around and attached itself to her. When 45 came, Death did not want to take her, but Death was tired. When she passed, I picked up my Mother’s story, and Death attached to me. Now three generations into Death’s journey, it sat in the arms of this compassionate woman, ready to be free of its office. Death had started out wholesome, in the service of nature. Death had become sickly and twisted. It was time to let it go.

Behind the woman, three figures appeared. One was a maiden, one a mother, and one a crone. My energy piqued. The Fates!

The woman told Death that the Fates would help it heal. She told Death to stand up. When it did, it transformed into a young woman, 21 years old. I was shocked. How could Death look so young?! I remembered that I was 21 when I took Death on.

“You can’t be 21!” I told Death angrily. “You are not me!” I looked at Death closer and realized it looked like my 21 year old self. “You can’t be 21,” I said softer. And Death changed again, looking as I do today. “No,” I said. “Older, much older.” Death transformed a third time. This time into a woman wise and peaceful, with enough wrinkles across her smiling face to know she lived a good, long, peaceful life filled with joy.

I smiled.

Death turned and walked towards the Fates, giving a nod of appreciation to the kneeling woman.

Then it was my turn to be transformed by her. But I will save that for my next post.

I want to thank you for your out pouring of support as I change my story. Some of you have left private Facebook messages for me or messaged me as part of groups I am in. I am amazed at how many people hold onto this same story or another story that isn’t in line with their wishes for their lives. I am changing mine, and I invite you to change yours. I will share my path to wholeness as an example. Until next time……

Changing My Story

I grew up with stories. My dad could spin a yarn like nobody’s business. They were often just on the edge of believability in that place where you knew they probably weren’t true but you sure wanted them to be. His mother was a storyteller in her own right. She told me of the past. How she met my grandfather, how she built a house with her own two hands, about the child that died unexpectedly, and how my life changed my family. Because of them, I fell in love with stories.

Not long into my adulthood, I began reading a master storyteller, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her books and tapes were like sacred literature in my development as a woman. That might sound “far fetched” (as my dad likes to say) but it is the truth. Clarissa taught me to look at story as medicine, as a thing that tells us about ourselves, gives us guidance for healing. I learned along the way that I could use story to change my life.

Change your story; change your life.

I know it is true because I have put it to practice over and over again.  I was the kid that did poorly in school. While my cousins and best friends were hanging out on the Honor Roll, I was struggling through books and trying to wrap my head around equations.  I was in a fog. I struggled through the first years in college too but after learning that I could change my story, I started telling myself I was a good student. I daydreamed on what it would feel like to live that story, and my grades started to improve. I fell in love with learning and even went on to get my Masters in counseling. I walked away with a 4.0 and a national award for influencing the field of counseling. Sometimes, I am amazed at the distance I came.

That is just one example of how changing my story has drastically changed my life.

Today, I am sitting with a different story. This story has been spinning itself for twenty two years now. It is a story that tells me I will die young….in fact my story suggest I will die at the age of 45.  That is not very long from now.  I turn 45 in 30 months.  Exactly two and a half years from now.  Why would this story have so much weight?!

When my mom was a young woman, her father died. He was 45. And as children who have lost their parents often do, they begin to feel their parents’ deaths are a reflection of their own deaths, a kind of inheritance.  She began to believe she would die at 45. And in fact, she did.  Crazy, huh?  I tried not to fall into that rut myself, but some mechanism inside me switch on when she died. It chatters out that story, and my life, my actions follows suit.

No, there are no blatantly obvious signs of my early demise. I have no disease, no life threatening disorder. But sometimes, I feel myself moving so fast and frantic that it seems as if I am running from something. This week I realized I am.  Death is nipping at my heels. So I live life at a sprint’s pace…quickly working to make my big, beautiful dreams come true before the end of it all.

 

Well, today I stopped.

Today I stopped, and I turned around. I stood quietly and looked Death in the face.

This is the beginning of Changing My Story.  I don’t know where it will lead me exactly, but I do know that with my own hand on the pen I will choose life. Life….happy, peaceful….and long.

What story have you changed in your life? What story would you change if you knew you could?

 

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Hi, I am Rachél.... the quirky, big-hearted soul behind Creativity Tribe, a sanctuary for your creative spirit. As a life coach and artist, I know the importance of community, celebration, and transformation. Creativity Tribe is abuzz with connections to other creative bloggers and offers tips and stories to inspire your creative lifestyle!
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