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Snoopy Time

It doesn’t matter what you believe just so long as you’re sincere. -Charles M. Schulz

Not everyone celebrates Halloween.

Not everyone eats candy.

And that’s ok.

Us? We have two young sons who enjoyed both yesterday.

In the last two years, Abraham’s health has made conventional Halloween fun a challenge. In 2014, he was recovering on October 31st from brain surgery the day before at the age of six.

He, Tommy, and their cousins celebrated early that year at a trunk-or-treat. Our little Minion didn’t feel well, but he made it through.

Two years ago today, I updated friends and family post-craniotomy:

‘Intense day yesterday, but turned a little corner last night. Ate a tiny bit; talking more. Doctor very pleased with the surgery results.

Line of the day:

Nurse: That was a good idea, Abraham!

Abe: You can call me smarty pants if you want to, even though I got no pants on!’

Always a jokester, even when he is recovering from brain surgery and hooked up to monitors galore.

In 2015, Abram was seven and battling infection and the effects of chemotherapy. He and I celebrated together quietly in the hospital.


This year, we are eating up every aspect of the season together as a family.


Abraham has to be one of the biggest eight-year-old Charles M. Schulz fans around. He has vintage Peanuts books, memorabilia, encyclopedias; you name it.   It is also his dream to be a comedian or cartoonist one day.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown started our family weekend rolling. Like the Peanuts gang, his old soul is straight out of the past where kids were kids and the world was a welcome playground. To be hospitalized on a sweet, spooky and silly holiday two-years in-a-row was unfortunate. So this year on Halloween, Abraham and his brother Tom were able to just be together and have some fun.

Times have changed and so has trick-or-treating. We only went to houses we knew, but we made the rounds, because this pup needed to ring some doorbells!

With each achievement, we celebrate. We celebrate childhood. We celebrate mobility and stamina. We celebrate family and friends. We celebrate happiness.

We celebrate life.


Peace.

Puppy Imagery

Guided imagery focuses and directs the imagination in proactive, positive ways. It can be just as simple as an athlete’s 10-second reverie, just before leaping off the diving board, imagining how a perfect dive feels when slicing through the water. Or it can be as complex as imagining the busy, focused buzz of thousands of loyal immune cells, scooting out of the thymus gland on a search and destroy mission to wipe out unsuspecting cancer cells. –Belleruth Naparstek

Some may simply call it “visualization,” but it goes beyond pictures in our head. Most of us have probably experimented on some level with its effectiveness on our own creativity, performance or anxiety.

More recently, research findings have demonstrated its positive impact on blood pressure, short-term immune cell activity, headaches, anxiety, nausea and fatigue- some of the all too common struggles faced during cancer treatment. Most find benefit by as little as 10 minutes of guided practice.

Guided imagery is considered a form of meditation, but requires minimal time and skill. This gentle yet effective technique can be tailored to the “genius of each person’s unique imagination” (Naparstek 1994).

Abram used his own personalized guided imagery on me last night. He was finishing his bath, and I was rushing around getting his towel and clothes ready.

For some reason, I was bent on finding “the” towel I had washed earlier that day. I’m not sure if I was tired, or if the towel actually has magically superior fibers, but when I found it crumpled and damp near the dirty-clothes basket, my shoulders tensed and I let out an exaggerated exhale through my nose. As I walked back to the linen closet, I felt I had to “settle” for a smaller, less plush towel. How ridiculous is that?

With bubbles on his semi-bald head, Abraham busted me out for acting rammy and flustered. He stopped me and ended my ridiculous huff by saying,

“Close your eyes.”

So, of course, I did.

From the tub, he instructs me, “Think about a super-soft kitten that doesn’t scratch curled by your neck, purring. It is all gray with one white paw and a bright pink nose. And there’s puppies in your lap.”

“What color should the puppies be, Mom?”

“All different shades of black and brown,” I replied. And then I added, “with floppy ears and that sweet puppy-paw scent.”

I didn’t peek, but I could tell he was pleased with my reply.

He continued to create my happy picture with images of Woodstock and Tweety Bird perched on my head.

“Do that for ten seconds or so.”

And, I did.

My young wiseman concluded our session with, “Use those thoughts when you’re stressed out, Mom, like with taxes.”

🙂

And just like that, I shifted my mood and my energy from frenetic and forward to calm and current. I had helped Abram use this meditative practice in the hospital before, but this was the first time he’d guided me to peace through a soothing “imaginary pet massage” (as he likes to call it).

I try to live in the now, but at certain times, I lose myself and spiral into a frenzy. When my mind calms and I realize that the moment I am in is the only one I am guaranteed, I regain my perspective. And luckily, when I forget to check myself, I have a Zen child who reels me back in.

Any of us can overreact or feel disappointed, but with a shot of awareness and a measure of practice, it’s possible to find peace at the same time.

Our bodies cannot escape the busy necessities of the world, but the quiet of our mind is ours to protect. No one, nor act, nor task should guide our thoughts without our permission. And when the noise creeps back in, there is always guided puppy (or kitty or birdy) imagery to quiet our thoughts and soothe our soul.

Peace and happiness…

 Snoopy Day

“I don’t know the meaning of life. I don’t know why we are here. I think life is full of anxieties and fears and tears. It has a lot of grief in it, and it can be very grim. And I do not want to be the one who tries to tell somebody else what life is all about. To me it’s a complete mystery.”
-Charles M. Schulz, Charles M. Schulz: Conversations

Pretty dark thoughts for a beloved cartoonist, isn’t it? Perhaps Schulz’s ability to acknowledge the grimness of grief while maintaining a sense of humor is one of the reasons he has remained relevant and inspirational for nearly seventy years.

Yesterday, I struggled amid minor setbacks. Abraham’s legs were giving him trouble, so we needed the wheelchair to get him around the hospital. It had been months since he had needed the chair. Next week, we are hoping he will return to school full time. I started to panic that he wouldn’t be ready. I worried that all the therapy and hard work still wouldn’t be enough to get him back with his friends on a regular basis. Then I took a deep breath, and replayed the positives in my head.

First and foremost, Abraham is happy. Second, labs yesterday were all heading in the right direction, and the thyroid panel was entirely within the normal range. Third, although the nausea did get the better of him before the visit was through, we made it home safely, and everyone slept through the night.

Once yesterday’s anxieties were back in check after counting a few blessings and getting a good night’s sleep, today blossomed. Abraham is a happy old soul who loves all things Peanuts. He and Grandma Annette have been planning a chemotherapy is over/end of summer shindig, but none of the days seemed quite right.

Yesterday was the last of his summertime hospital appointments, plus this week is Snoopy’s birthday, hence, Snoopy Day! Before we even entered Grandma’s house, Snoopy was there to greet us at the front door:


We dined on Snoopy’s favorite meal: root beer and pizza. And of course, there was cake!

I’m not sure if daily fears and occasional tears make me weak or make me human. On the one hand, I pride myself on keeping the faith, but on the other, I know the universe will do what it must. The balance between thinking positive thoughts while remaining ready to handle negatives that inevitably pop up is perhaps my chief personal dilemma. As I supplement my soul-search through blogging, I, too, don’t want to be one who tries to tell others what life is all about. My intention is to share our version of life’s mysteries with honesty and humor in hopes that readers might occasionally smile along 🙂