Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain

You are One of Life’s Mountain Goats

It’s not just about the climbing. It’s also about standing up.

Life is like a mountain and you are like a mountain goat. There are times in which you need to climb up. There are times in which you need to climb down. There are times you must stand your ground. There are times you must simply stand still.

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First of all: mountain goats aren’t goats. They are related to goats, but more closely related to gazelles and antelopes. So, you may choose to consider yourself a mountain gazelle or mountain antelope if it suits you.

You must climb up. Soon after birth, young mountain goats must dash among the mountain terrain with their mother. Ironically, it is for safety that they must climb dangerously high on intimidating slopes in order to defend themselves from predators such as cougars and wolves. We must also skillfully work our way to the high road, taking courses of action that lead us to not only the most acceptable place, but the place that would least likely get ourselves or others in harm’s way. Look where you are going, and steer clear of the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

You must climb down. There are times when we must just first survive before we can thrive. In the winter, mountain goats will come down to lower ground to eat, being vulnerable to being preyed upon by the wolves. Oftentimes we need to take risks in order to develop and grow. Our challenges may make us stronger or they may make us weaker; but our challenges make us. Be mindful of the wolves in your life. Take responsibility for your own needs.

You must stand your ground. A mountain goat knows how to fight for their best life. During mating season, billies (males) will fight each other with their horns to get the right to mate with the female. Females fight females. These nannies know how to use their horns to protect their territory, their kids, and their food. It is not a stretch for me to relate to these measures. We all want to find someone to bond with. At the same time, we know how to claim our territories and resources. It’s when we get a little too obsessed in claiming these things that we compromise our relationships.

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There are times when you simply must stand still; keep your balance. Mountain goats are famous for this. They are built with the cloven hooves and toes that spread wide. Pads on the bottom of each toe are rough and make it possible for them to keep a good grip. We also need to keep a good grip on our lives. Focusing on one spot can help you balance on one foot. Focusing on the priorities and potential dangers in life can help balance your life. Mountain goats will rest under the shade of an overhang. Rest and enjoy your view.

We need to know when to move forward or take a step down.  We need to know when to stand our ground and when to stand still. Look up; look down; look out. Assess your situation. Keep your footing. Take a deep breath. Life, it’s chronic.

 

For more information on mountain goats, visit:

http://www.nationalforests.org

http://www.defenders.org

http://www.nationalgeographic.org

 

Breast cancer, Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain

Naked Thoughts After a Mastectomy

A mastectomy made me want to take my clothes off. Why?

I sent to a comment to a photographer:  If you ever want to take some pictures of a breastless chest and scars, and a body that has atrophied, hit me up. 🤔 Seriously. 50 year old bodies still have life in them. 😁

The photographer’s response: I cannot tell you how much of an honor that would be. Just having the opportunity to meet you would be amazing. I’m for real. You and (your daughter) should come to the studio.

I did not expect such an invitation. His work was filled with younger people and professional models. You see, the photographer had become a ‘friend’ of mine on Facebook recently because my adult daughter is a model. She and her father are very photogenic. The photographer purposefully reached out to me to let me know what a professional pleasure it was to work with someone of her personality, abilities and professionalism. He couldn’t say enough kind words about her. As a mom, it is a high feeling to have strangers go out of their way to say how much they respect and appreciate my daughter as an admirable human being.

I liked his approach, so I kept following his work. Creativity. Expression. Humanity. However, I had not seen a subject of his work that had been middle-aged or older, like me. Definitely not a woman with a flat chest.

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‘Practicing’ to be photographed.

The idea of being nude in front of a camera made me absolutely cringe before breast cancer, when I still had breasts. Back in college, I briefly contemplated posing nude for an art class in college for some extra bucks, but when I imagined how much I would shiver and be unable to sit still in a cold Wisconsin classroom the idea quickly came and went. Years later, after I became ill with migraines, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I allowed myself to feel increasingly resentful toward my body.

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Full disclosure: I am 48, not 50; not that it ought to matter…

Now that I have undergone chemotherapy, had a bilateral mastectomy, and radiation treatment and immunotherapy for breast cancer, I am no longer ashamed of my “chest region”. Now I plan to visit Minneapolis, Minnesota for a two hour session with a photographer to take nude, artistic photos to show the vulnerability and strength of my body and myself. Living up to the stereotype of being bipolar, I have always been possessed by the raw emotion that nature and art bring out of me. Art is an emotional and intellectual science. I am excited to find out this photographer’s vision.

Most nude pictures, drawn or photographed, are predominantly of young, toned and ultimately attractive people. I want to see people of all ages and backgrounds and give respect to the containers we carry our souls in. Via Facebook, I challenged the photographer to use me, a 48 year old woman, deconditioned from a year of cancer therapy and a double mastectomy, as an instrument in his photography. I had thought the chances would be slim, but that he may take the bait. He happily did so. Here’s hoping he doesn’t regret it.  Really all I have to lose is but a tank of gas.

Is it more or less acceptable for someone who has undergone a bilateral mastectomy to be shown nude? If I now went outside topless, would it still be indecent? Offensive? I am hoping to gain some insight from this upcoming experience. I am hoping to learn to be inspired by and accepting of my body for the way it’s made. I am working on it.

Life, it’s chronic.