Friday, February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009: What a terrific day before leaving for the Optimum Health Institute. I wrapped up details at work and then my friend Jay and I went to the Tribal Art show at Ft. Mason. This show is the twin of the Arts of Pacific Asia show held last weekend only this time, the arts are from all over the world and more, well, tribal. There were more dealers than ever before, and the booths were fit into every possible space. Clearly there was a big demand to exhibit. Also, there were more dealers from Paris and Brussels with a great deal of very fine sub-Sahara African masks and carvings.

The rug dealers that I’ve known for many years all returned and brought some very fine pieces. This year, there were no world class rugs, rather, very fine examples of good collector pieces. Most interesting, the energy at the show had an exciting bounce and zing. People seemed to be having a lot of fun looking, buying and admiring. It was much more upbeat than last weekend’s show. As one dealer said, “Last weekend was a cemetery, this weekend is a circus.” It felt wonderful to be in the space with so many interested customers and dealers, and I wondered what happened to our recession. It was nowhere to be seen near the Tribal Arts show.

Before I leave for the next three weeks, I have been mulling about what sort of invocation to request as part of my cleansing and detox from chemotherapy. This time, it will be a short few lines that are easy to read and imagine.

Fresh vegetables and fruits feed my body with health.
Deep breaths relax my spirit.
Days and nights where I rest and restore myself.
I am cleansed and invigorated.

That’s it: four simple lines that summarize the experience I want to cultivate. I look forward to a counterbalance to the chemo. After months of rigorous medicine, it will be wonderful to devote my days to a healthy diet, meditation and exercise. As I said in yesterday’s blog, I will journal my thoughts while I’m gone and when I return, I’ll share the highlights with you. Until I return on March 8th, I will be thinking of all of you and feel grateful that you are part of my life and my healing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12, 2009: My big effort during the past few days has been to get ready for the next three weeks at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego. I have decided not to take anything that might distract me from being totally involved in the activities there, so I am not taking a laptop or books or CDs. When I have time alone in the evening, I plan to journal.

Also, I’d like to spend more time going to the healing center in my imagination. You know the place, it’s located on the “Lost Coast” in Humbolt County, and when I go there, I start with a soak in the turquoise bathing pool and then proceed to the marble resting table where I receive various healers. I have been away from that place for the past few weeks, and I miss it. My excuse is that I have been busy just living my life. However, the healing center has given me good inspiration, and it will be exciting to visit there more often.

With no access to a computer, the blog will cease for three weeks. When I return from Optimal Health, some of my journaling will be poured into the blog. I am looking forward to the time away from work and my usual routine simply because taking a break can be good. It’s only been five and a half months since I had my hip replacement and found out about my cancer diagnosis. Three of those months were swamped with chemo treatments and recovering from same. Actually, I am still recovering from same. But the point is that I’ve been very focused on aggressive treatments and enduring their impact on me.

In many ways, I’m not sure what to expect at Optimum Health, because I’ve never been there. I do know that I feel receptive to the diet and exercise regimens they talk about on their web site. Simply for the relaxation and diet and exercise I think it will be a timely experience for me. I am reasonably recovered from chemo, and I feel an incentive to be there. At this point that’s the most I can bring to the experience: having a powerful incentive to be there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10, 2009: Whoa! Another week between blog entries, and it’s due to feeling better and having more daily activity. Along with more physical stamina, I’ve also had a surge of interesting things to do. Last Thursday, I went with my friend Ellen to see the St. Laurent show at the de Young. I had been there before on a weekend when there were many more people in the galleries, but this time, the rooms were easily traversed. We could get close to the clothes that spanned thirty five years of St. Laurent’s vision of what made women look superb. It was a show with many masterpieces of design from one of his early trapeze coats that still looked modern and sleek ranging through his re-work of the tuxedo look for women to his unstoppable and inventive use of beautiful textiles.

Later in the evening Ann and I went to the second ballet in our series and had one of those “star is born” experiences that are always electric when they occur. In this case, the star was a newly-hired principal dancer from Havana Cuba named Taras Dimitro. He appeared in the last movement of Helgi Thomason’s Prisim and immediately performed a long, high leap the length of which hadn’t been seen on the Opera House stage for a very long time. Then, he leapt again, this time with some embellishments mid-air. It became clear that this guy could hold the entire audience with ease. Later in the evening he danced the role of Melancholy in Balanchine’s The Four Temperments and this time he was languid, slow, with long back bends where his arms drooped onto the floor with his shoulders impossibly far back and his lower back in a deep curve. Amazing. It was a wonderful evening with the entire company looking exuberant and spirited plus the addition of a new member who promises a very rich future for the lucky audience.

Friday, my friend Jay and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Arts of Pacific Asia show with dealers from all over the world bringing their Asian treasures to the San Francisco market. My favorite piece in the show was a shimmering piece of soft white silk embroidered with pastel colors made in India for Portuguese customers. There were also some great, old tankas from Tibet, Central Asian ikats and wonderful porcelains. The most fun was seeing the dealers again who I have gotten to know over the years. Several of them knew about my cancer so there were condolences as well as many wishes for good health. Best of all, my friend Ulrike from Stuttgart was in the show, and I had the pleasure of visiting with her briefly in her booth and then a longer visit over dinner last night (Monday, Feb. 9th). I deeply enjoy knowing Ulrike, and am very glad that our relationship which started as buyer and seller has turned into a much more wide-ranging friendship. It is always a treat to see her.

Saturday was the Maitri Board of Directors retreat which went very well. The morning started with my delivery of the background history of Maitri which I give twice a year to the new volunteers coming into the program. The Board had never heard this talk, so I repeated it for them, and it got our day off to a good start by realizing all of the deep cultural roots that have been sources for Maitri’s special blend of compassion and care for our residents. Although Maitri has some interesting prospects in its immediate future, it also has no crises or threats at the moment. What a blessing to have a board retreat with no major dilemmas to solve or resolve. Later in the evening, I had a long overdue dinner with my friends Philip and Goel.

The big event on Sunday was a recital at Hertz Hall in Berkeley by Danielle de Niese a young and very exciting soprano with great coloratura technique. In a program that ranged from Handel to Hugo Wolf to Poulenc to Samuel Barber, de Niese showed that her voice is well trained and supple. Still, as I was listening to her, I kept hoping that she keeps her enlarging repertoire largely in the baroque repertoire. There’s a happy combination of great phrasing and good acting where she brings those roles to life.

As I’m reviewing this blog entry, it seems much more extroverted and externalized than most of my entries. There’s a lot of “Here’s what I did, and this is who I did it with.” Much of this is due to feeling better as I get further away from the chemo treatments. However, let me also say that this time has been full of exercises where I come back into my body. Where else might I be? Well, I have a habit of dissociating a fair amount, so I have started doing breath work where I anchor myself back in my body. Also I do imaging where I see myself inside myself. When I’m in my body, I feel less fear and anxiety about the state of my health. Much of the distress that I felt immediately after my scans were read has gone away, replaced by knowing that I am doing what I can to get better.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 3rd, 2009: My apologies—a week has passed since I’ve posted an entry. There’s one big event to mention which is that I have made my reservations at the Optimal Health Institute. I’ll fly down to San Diego on Valentine’s Day, Saturday the 14th of February and visit with my friends Tim and Dave who recently moved to Carlsbad, just north of San Diego. We plan to explore the miles of beach front that is close to their new home, and, of course, visit. Then, the next day, Sunday, I’ll check into Optimum Health for a three week stay.

If you go to their web site,, and look at classes and activities for San Diego, you’ll see that there is a lot scheduled for each day. I’ll be busy, and I’ll be learning, but I don’t think I’ll be exhausted. A lot of this trip is about resting and having a chance to relax after three rounds of chemo in three months. I am really looking forward to this shift in my healing, and when you consider the length of the stay, three weeks is a long time.

Otherwise my life has returned to close to normal. I go to work for several hours every day. I went up to Glen Ellen for both weekend days and had a good time catching up with Ann and doing yard work: chopping wood, trimming the roses and the wisteria. Also, the ballet series that Ann and I attend got started this past Thursday and we saw a terrific ballet—In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated—by William Forsythe from 1987 during his highly productive years in Frankfurt. The dance was remarkably swift and edgy with a great deal of arm work as well as legs; dancers pulled each other in highly engaging ways punctuated by a percussive, electronic sound that drove the action forward. What made the dance work so well was that the choreographer happens to be a genius who really understands how to make people move on stage in captivating ways. It is so exhilarating to watch the San Francisco ballet do such a fine job with such a demanding work; it makes up for the less thrilling pieces that…oh, why go there.

As each day passes, I get more energy and sense of health back into my body. My appetite is excellent, and nausea seems a distant memory. It’s amazing how quickly my body recovers, and it’s just as amazing to consider how long it takes for full recovery. I still have to deal with fatigue in the afternoon, and the known antidote is naps.