Monday, January 31, 2011

To love ... and not lose myself

Part of my lesson for the next stage of my life's journey is to learn to love, and not lose myself. It begins with simply really finding out, discovering and creating who I am ... and once I am able to do that to be solid and centered enough to truly trust that my own voice matters. We learn from every experience, every friend, and every relationship.

There's a beautiful quote by Rilke I love:

"To love does not mean to surrender, dissolve, and merge with another person. It is the noble opportunity for an individual to ripen to become something in and of himself. To become a world in response to another is a great immodest challenge that has sought him out and called him forth."

I learned so much from my trip this past summer swimming with wild dolphins in Bimini, Bahamas. I had no idea how life changing and transformative it was going to be for me. Early in 2010 I had also met with my astrologer ... she said something that has remained with me ... she saw death (and surgery) in my chart and thought that my relationship had ended. I said no, everything was great. I was more concerned with my ongoing health issues. She was relieved to know that my relationship was doing well. My session with her was the impetus for my booking the wild dolphin trip. She told me "you better learn to play to save your life." She asked what I have always wanted to do ... I said "swim with dolphins ... wild, free dolphins." The dolphins gave me the courage to find my voice, and then to speak my truth.

As I reflect back on the year, she was right about both things ... the ending of my relationship and surgery. I am going back to see her tomorrow. When I called to schedule my session with her about 6 weeks ago I shared with her that she was right after all, and in tears I shared with her that my relationship had ended. Compassionately, she said "i'm so sorry. Marilou ... walk the earth." It was exactly what I needed to hear at moment ... walk the earth Marilou ... stay grounded. And so for the past 6 weeks I have walked the earth and I have placed one foot in front of the other, doing the best I can to keep moving forward.

I have walked through grief, loss, fear ... and some major health scares. I have reached the edge and in the end I have learned that I am much stronger than I thought I was, but most importantly I have learned that I do not have to go through the difficult times alone. I have God, my faith, my furkids (Ahnung, Missy and Mister) my family, my friends and an extremely supportive and loving community. Thank you all for loving and supporting me through some very difficult times.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What I've learned from my dogs ....

Today is exactly 2 weeks since I closed on my new home. It's hard to believe it's been only 2 weeks. We are settling into our new home and loving it. I think the dogs must feel like they are in heaven now with this awesome big back yard to run around in. I love our new home. It has been so healing for me to have a space of my own and to allow myself to simply create and let evolve what is meant to be ... yes, health issues still loom over my head but that's okay. I feel great. I step into the next stage of my life's journey with both feet and have embraced the joy and possibilities of what is to come along with the tears and the sadness of what has been and what has been lost. I am learning though that nothing, nothing is ever really lost. Everything evolves. Everything changes. And if we remain open to it, we too can transform.

I'm sure there are many of you that can relate to the healing power of animals. My dogs Ahnung, Missy and Mister have been my best medicine through all that has happened. Finally having a home where we could all be together again has brought me so much joy. I believe and hope that it has brought them just as much joy.

I thought i'd share with you just a few things I have learned from my amazing furkids this past week as we have stepped into our new beginning ...

What I have learned from my Dogs
~ Marilou Chanrasmi

Break the Rules ....

Live in the Moment

Lean on my friends ... we don't have to go through the tough times alone.

Slow down. Take time to meditate and reflect.

Live as if there is no tomorrow. Give everything you have into what you love
and what makes you happy.

Love has no boundaries.

Take time to play. Be a kid again. Don't take life too seriously.

Open up my heart to the unconditional love ... be willing to both
give and receive.

And take time for rest ... LOTS of it!!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our first week in our new home!

Ahnung, Missy and Mister
breaking in our new leather couch!
It's been a little over a week now since we have been in our new home! I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it feels to have a place I can call home, and a place where I'm able to bring all 3 of my beautiful big black dogs with me. Ahnung, Missy and Mister are my kids. In many ways, they are the reason why I purchased this home. We are all settling in and it's clear to me not only how much I love each of them, but also how much they love each other.

Today, I am choosing to simply focus on the good, the positive, the light and all that brings me joy. So ... what happened as a result is a video I made of pictures taken during our first week here at our new home. These pups are my best medicine. They teach me so much about life ... unconditional love, play, rest, speaking out, living in the moment.

Ahnung, Missy and Missy ... thank you for blessing me every day with the gift of your love!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Facing fear

These past days have been a flurry of mixed emotions. I moved out of my old house, closed a chapter in my life and moved into my new home. This week for the first time I had all 3 of my beautiful big black dogs (Ahnung, Missy and Mister) with me. I am grateful to my friends Laura and Carol for helping me with my "kids" during the craziness of the move transition. My first night (Saturday night) was just Ahnung and me. She has been my constant companion through all of this with her calm, consistent, loving energy interspersed with moments of play. She has decided she loves to sleep on the new leather couch. I woke up Sunday morning with a  new symptom and a feeling in my gut (literally and figuratively) that something was wrong. That morning I had significant bleeding in my stool. It was as if my insides were coming out and I admit it scared me. It was like something inside of me had ruptured and like my intestines were coming out. It was as significant as that moment on September 14, 2009 when I had just arrived in New York, checked into my hotel room and soon discovered that my body could no longer digest fats ... a physical symptom so glaring it was impossible to ignore or write off. I called one of my healers that morning wondering what I should do. I wasn't in any pain and thought maybe it would just go away on its own. I didn't want to go to the emergency room. My appetite was fine and I wasn't nauseous and wasn't feeling any pain. So I opted to not go to the ER and told a couple close friends. I guess part of me hoped that if I didn't say anything (the good ole 'sweep it under the rug') it would just go away. I wanted to be able to celebrate my new home, and being a family again with all 3 of my dogs together and with me ... and to not mix it in with not so good health news.

The next day there was no bleeding but I awoke with abdominal pain. Nonetheless, I was relieved. Maybe it did just 'go away'. Then yesterday I awoke at 4 am with abdominal pain and the bleeding return with just as much vengeance. My healer pushed me to call my GI doctor so I did. He was in surgery yesterday morning but was sent a message. His assistant called me back and said he wants me in right away to have a colonoscopy and with the bleeding to have labwork done today to check my hemoglobin level. Both my healer and GI doctor have said that with my family history (my mom having had colon cancer) they need to take extra precautions. So prepping for the procedure began last night. I had the worse headache last night (I'm hoping it was just stress) and feeling nauseous.

I realized last night that I am scared. A part of me is also tired of these health issues. I want to be able to just celebrate my new life and my new beginning. I am scared. I think what scares me the most is thinking about what would happen to my "kids" ... to Ahnung, Missy and Mister ... if something happened to me. I love these dogs more than anything ... even crazy boy Mister with all his quirkiness, energy and separation anxiety. Heck ... I bought a home with a huge backyard so we could be a family and all be together. Last night we snuggled on the couch. As my head was pounding and overcome with nausea I had a breakdown. I decided to just let my tears fall; to accept that I was afraid ... and in that moment I realized I'm not afraid for me, I'm afraid because I worry, yes I worry about my babies and I worry that I don't have my affairs in order should anything happen to me. Hopefully this bleeding is something minor. I guess i'll know soon enough. For now my "kids" give me strength and comfort and a reason to stay strong.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Live each day as if it is your last ...

I've been "journeying" alongside Earnie Larsen, a fellow parishioner at St. Joan of Arc catholic church as he shares letters and lessons after learning he had stage IV pancreatic cancer. I've never met Earnie yet his writing, reflections and gift of writing has allowed so many of us to walk with him on his final days. He learned he had stage IV pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2010. Doctors first estimated he had 2 years to live ... their best guess ... so he began writing "Letters" to share with his family, friends and the community his reflections ... then in December when he met with his oncologist he learned he probably only had 2 more months, and he decided to write 12 lessons as he approached his final days. I shared one of his lessons on a recent blog post ... dancing with God. Early yesterday morning Earnie passed away peacefully. On the St. Joan website they share his unfinished lessons 4 -6. He is now up in heaven, dancing with God. He blessed so many of us with the gift of his writing, his reflections and his willingness to open up his heart to strangers ... as he approached his final days.

I have been blessed with some initial positive news regarding my own pancreatic issues. I also know that there are changes going on in my body at a cellular level ... I was reminded when I got a call the other day from my surgeon's office reminding me about my breast "issues" and scheduling an MRI and the risks associated with waiting ... I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I would never have imagined that my life would be what it is today. Worry and stress takes a toll on one's body. I guess i've had my share of that over the past couple years. I pray for strength, courage, wisdom, compassion ... and to keep moving inward towards my core and to find my voice and to simply speak my truth with love and kindness.

Four months ago Earnie Larsen had no idea he was dying. In many ways, I believe he was blessed to know his end was approaching so he could prepare himself and others. Many of us won't be quite so lucky to know our end is approaching. So live today as if it's your last ... because the truth is, we don't know.

Rest in peace Earnie ... and dance with God and let your spirit soar and continue to sprinkle the lives of so many of us who have been touched by your words.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Answered Prayers ... power of prayer and power of love

I have looked at this picture of my beloved companion Ahnung a million times and wondered what is she doing ... what is she thinking ... what is she experiencing?? Having survived such horrendous conditions and abuse she has taught me so much about the power of love, forgiveness, resilience ... about being in the moment, about asking for what one needs, about setting boundaries. Who would've known that I could learn so much from an angel whom God sent to me in the body of a big black dog dumped with her litter of 8 puppies at Red Lake reservation in northern Minnesota.

I have been praying a lot. I have been allowing myself to receive the love and support of so many friends and family (and even cyber friends who follow my blog and have sent notes of support) ... I have an incredible health care team consisting of both western medicine doctors and alternative therapies (energy healer, acupuncturist, therapist and holistic doctor) ... and of course, the loving support of my Pet Haven "family" and of course my dogs Ahnung, Missy and Mister. I have had friends and family email me that I am in their prayers and that they are requesting for others in their church to pray for me. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of love and how our bodies are so miraculous and have the ability to heal themselves if we provide them with supportive, nurturing and loving environment.

Last night I spoke to my doctor about the results of the pancreas tests. He told me that the CT scan shows that my pancreas looks good. When I'm not traveling for work (which will be in February) he wants me to get off of the pancreatic enzymes for 5 days then go on a high fat diet so they can measure the fat absorption. Who knows ... maybe when i'm off the enzymes I won't have the symptoms and maybe, just maybe spontaneous healing has taken place as I kick off 2011. And maybe, just maybe I will no longer need to even take pancreatic enzymes anymore! Here's to a new year kicked off with health  .... and on next Friday I close on my new home as I embark on the next stage of my life's journey. It will be with mixed emotions as I close the door on a life that has in many ways taught me so much and allowed me to grow into this next stage.

And one big lesson that Ahnung is teaching me is a reminder to have fun ... she'll be sharing more on her blog about her latest adventures and her new hobby of knitting!! :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I've been awake since 3 am ... tossing and turning and decided to start writing. I'm guessing i'm a little worried. I had tests last week at Mayo. My doctor was out last week but returned yesterday so I called to make sure he wouldn't forget to call me with the results of the extensive labwork and the abdominal/pelvis CT scan done to check on my pancreas. There was concern that my pancreas was only functioning at 10%. Hopefully tomorrow I will speak with my doctor.

I awoke this morning thinking of Earnie Larsen, a parishioner at St. Joan of Arc. A couple months ago I returned to St. Joan, and the first Sunday that I returned I read in the church bulletin about Earnie Larsen, a parishioner who was recently diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer and was told that he most likely had 2 years left. He was a writer and wanted to share his journey. I've been following his journey. I revisited the St. Joan website and learn that in his Dec 2010 oncologist visit he has now been given a best guess of 3 months. As he approaches his final days he continues to be an inspiration to so many through his "letters" and "lessons". He talks now about Dancing with God:

AS I LEARN TO LET MYSELF DANCE WITH MY GOD, to keep focused on Him, things have changed a lot since last week.  As I learn to open my heart to all the incredible love coming from you, my family, I feel strength pouring into me.  My core is strengthening.  I see and feel my God smile at me - sometimes he even winks - and says, "See, I told you. Trust me.  We are on a wonderful journey."

Your love astounds me!  It pours in from everywhere.  It lifts up my body and spirit and makes it soar like an eagle.  Even my poor old body.  I've lost about 50 pounds to the meat grinder.  I look like an emaciated, pot bellied stork.  Pot bellied because of all the fluid build-up in my abdominal cavity. All my life I have gladly jumped into the pit and fought to the death in the name of God for others spiritual freedom.  I've fought the red mist in the lives of others forever - and seen the miracles.  I've seen the power that only "I love you" possesses at its fiery core to create transformed lives.  (Which IS dancing with God) 

But now that same "in the pit" do or die commitment is coming back to me from you.  Now it is pouring into me.  And with that God winks and says, "It is your time.  Let us enjoy this together."
I also recently had a conversation with my insurance agent. He took the place of Peggy, my insurance agent I had worked with for almost 10 years. Last summer she died from pancreatic cancer. We reminisced about  Peggy. Then last week when seeing my energy healer she shared with me that she lost her sister to pancreatic cancer. A year ago yesterday (January 3, 2010) was also the first time my father appeared to me in a dream. And in that dream one of the things he told me was that I have pancreatic cancer which then led to the diagnosis of pancreatic insufficiency by my GI doctor and an explanation for the 35 pounds I lost in a year.

So even if I did awake because of worry I will try to fall back to sleep for a little bit hearing the words of Earnie and the image of dancing with God. The truth is none of us know when it will be our time. Opening our hearts and dancing with God must be an every day occurrence ... "cancer is nothing. Love is all."

"Blocked hearts are sick hearts.  No one lives well if there are a mountain of petrified tears hiding in the dark.  Breaking out, bursting through the egg shell that holds us captive is the only way to gain freedom.  And that takes acceptance. Acceptance is the ticket into the dance."