A lot goes on behind the scenes of this blog.
I wear many hats, from research, to travel, to writing, to photography. Networking and meeting people. Filming and making pitches. Let’s look behind the scenes, here in Santa Fe.
The Blog: Behind The Scenes
What’s a day in Santa Fe like with CancerRoadTrip? Here are some looks at daily life.
I’ve been able to establish a bit of a routine that includes daily exercise, walking with my Urban Poles or hitting the elliptical when time is tight; a matcha latte with almond milk in the morning (matcha for its antioxidant support, in lieu of coffee); having a few favorite things with me.
Wind chimes ring at my front door; Clarence (the gargoyle, in the slider above and picture below) looks over my small office; an old and favorite bracelet waits for me every morning. Weekends at the Farmers Market, events like Indian Market, an evening out at the Opera to see Madame Butterfly, and activities like hiking fill in the balance.
The Blog: Working from Wifi
“I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it – I believe life loves the lover of it. I live it.”
– Maya Angelou
There is good and bad about writing a blog and being something of a digital nomad. The good is that you can work from anywhere. The bad is that work is always with you. I’m grateful to be truly passionate about what I’m doing.
A blog can open many doors. It forces me to get out and constantly explore. (See Life Lesson #1) It means interacting with people from all over the world. It means on-line learning to develop your skills.
And of course it’s all a bit of an adventure.
From the first year, some milestones:
- Twitter has grown from zero to over 10,000 followers, reaching to over 1.1 million people/month (and growing!)
- Instagram is coming up on 10,000 followers soon
- Visited 8 countries, 11 states (some more than once)
- Photography entered my life as a new found passion and I’ve just added a super zoom lens to my bag.
- And last but certainly not least, I have simply survived the last year.
I’ve resettled, re-energized and re-oriented my entire 60 something life since events sent everything reeling, and the way I view things has changed dramatically.
I’ve worked hard to develop non-judgment, less I drive myself crazy over the perceived injustices of life. The Buddhist sense of impermanence combined with the stilling of my mind has allowed me to find a place of peace. I work on this daily.
Being homeless for some months, I’ve found that I don’t “need” many of the habits that had once made up my life. I can happily exist in many situations, under many conditions. I adopt the disciplines that promote my well being; I allow the rest to be.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation–we are challenged to change ourselves.”
–Viktor E. Frankl
Yet through all this, some things remains constant. I am someone who likes having a home base. I admire the people who can be permanently nomadic, but it’s just not for me.
When I landed in Santa Fe, everything seemed to just click. With this lovely casita, I have wifi, computer and camera. Here I find a timeless connection to the land, the energy and the people that simply fills my soul.
Life is good.
The Blog: Life Through The Lens
“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
I take my camera almost everywhere with me; there’s much to learn and explore through the viewpoint of a lens. The endless creativity of the medium has thoroughly captivated me.
The addition of the Gallery section of the blog, and the unrelenting appetite of an Instagram feed, have pushed me to constantly take pictures in my travels, often daily. As I look back over the last year, I see great improvement. I am hoping the next year sees still more.
I have signed up for two photography classes this fall. One is technical; one is more hands on.
I pity the poor instructor because I already have enough questions lined up to fill a semester.
The Blog: Life Lived Through the Lens of a Story
“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn.
Tell me the truth and I’ll believe.
But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
– Native American Proverb
We learn through the stories we tell.
Isaac Dineson once said that “To be a person is to have a story to tell.”
At heart, the best stories are really about a journey into the soul.
The cancer story is one of challenge, seeming defeat, perseverance and triumph. It’s about life and death; about presence and love. It’s about all the things that make us human and allow us to learn and grow.
I know we will all choose different routes and destinations because we all carry different stories. But along the way, our paths will intersect and resonate. Where they cross, where our emotions and experiences meet, are timeless truths to be shared.
The Blog: The Story In A Name
What’s in a name?
CancerRoadTrip. What does that conjure up?
Fighter, warrior, survivor.
We seem to want to label people, experiences and viewpoints.
But there is no label that captures this cancer experience. To try to label it, to simplify it and to apply it to everyone, ignores the many dimensions of people and their experiences. It ignores the uniqueness of each story.
And yet names define us.
They’re a marker, an identifier, perhaps an inspiration. They tell a story.
It is here that I need your help.
As you know, we’re gearing up to give away healing journeys. I am (for the moment) calling the people (the cancer patients, survivors and the friends and family impacted by these events) who embark on these journeys with us as “Journeyers”.
After all, cancer is a journey; healing is a journey; ultimately life is a journey. Are we not all travelers through our times?
But perhaps there is a better word than Journeyer.
Traveler? Pilgrim? Explorer?
Can you think of a better one? Send me your thoughts either in the comment box below or via email, pat@CancerRoadTrip.com.
What’s a name that inspires, motivates and connects with you?
The Blog and The Journey: CancerRoadTrip
Everyone’s CancerRoadTrip is different.
Some people learn by physically challenging themselves; some through introspection. Some quickly embrace a new life; some not.
Whatever the choice, it’s an evolving path of uncertainty pulled by promise, given to everyone, embraced only by some.
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”
– Søren Kierkegaard
Which brings me to an interesting conversation that challenged my view of CancerRoadTrip.
I’ve been acquainted with Sean Swarner for some time now. Sean is a force of nature and then some. He has climbed the highest mountains on all continents (starting with a successful first summit on Everest ); gone to both the North and South Pole; completed the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii; summited numerous other mountains many times.
All on one lung.
Because two different terminal childhood cancer diagnoses left him with just one functional lung.
Most recently he took on the North Pole and the film, “True North: The Sean Swarner Story”, has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Sean and I reconnected recently and we got talking about the incredible self knowledge that can come from experiences of being in and challenging nature. About setting goals and working through them; about the incredible power of one’s mind.
The challenges Sean has chosen are the stuff of legend. Climbing the highest mountains, going to the most remote areas, defying the bounds of what was considered humanly doable, not to mention beating terminal cancer not once, but twice.
Perhaps a bit of physical adventure should be a part of CancerRoadTrip moving ahead.
Which brings up my own life and level of physical fitness. It is not where it needs to be, and all of a sudden I realized that I might miss out!
What if we were to add Kilimanjaro to the CancerRoadTrip lineup? Or another more physically oriented retreat?
Right now, I’m not fit enough to go.
So I have started a serious fitness program which is long overdue. I’m 61 years old and quite honestly in the worse shape of my life. The combination of (multiple rounds of) chemo, a failed hip, off the charts stress, weight gain and being on the road have taken their toll. While I’m doing some light hiking and moving, I’m not “in shape”.
“Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life was meant to be.”
– Steve Pavlina
Behind the scenes, my fitness is now an absolute priority. I want to be present, to experience everything I possibly can, for as long as I can.
I didn’t know where CancerRoadTrip would lead when I started. The journey has become the blog and now the blog is becoming an adventure beyond me. One that I look forward to sharing with many, both in person and vicariously through the new website.
Cancer challenges and changes our lives. Many of us need to regain trust and confidence in ourselves and our bodies.
We need to plot a new path forward.
We find ourselves with an urgency and renewal of life that only comes from confronting death and the dissolution of all we perceived to be real. Physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually we need to find a new footing, a new way forward, one step at a time.
“The power of storytelling is exactly this:
to bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.”
– Paulo Coelho
When all else has crumbled, it takes courage to move ahead. Courage to face mortality, and then life. Courage to make self care a priority. It takes courage to listen to your heart and soul to possibly follow a new path and create a new story.
If there is any good news about cancer, it is that it can be a wakeup call, to patients, friends and family.
Are you living your best life?
Are you feeding your soul?
If you could…
What would you do?
And even more importantly,
Where would you go?!
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What is #CancerRoadTrip and how did it come to be? Read this post to get the backstory!