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Choices, Artists and Enlightenment
3/13/2011 - Susan Terbay

Choices, Artists and Enlightenment

I recently had another visit with my oncologist.  Always his first question to me is, “How are you doing?” I usually say, ‘oh fine.’ But this time my response was a little longer as I tried to express the many facets of what is happening to me with a touch of sarcasm.  I replied that except for the cancer thing, and the chemo thing and the loss of hair thing and the fact that I can no longer have my morning coffee with enjoyment because it now tastes like the coffee pot and not the brew itself and the fact that I get to revisit menopause again with hot flashes and that I feel often like a 18 wheeler has run over me – I feel pretty good.  He just sat and smiled and said, well some day you will get to enjoy your coffee again!

Cancer and chemo has occupied my life way too much of late and I don’t like it but it is what it is.  I needed to define myself and pull upon my life experiences to deal with this ‘occupier’ in my life and to answer some of my own questions.  While alone, I found myself asking lamenting questions:  How can I see in the dark of despair?  Look for the light from others who care!  How can I eat when food taste like metal?  Look in my pantry and be grateful I have choices and make it work!  How can I be productive when I want only to sleep?  Who says that sleep is not productive!   

I recently shaved my hair off.  After watching wisps of my hair fall out it troubled me to be dealing with it so sadly.  The cancer and chemo made this decision that I should lose my hair.  Well, fine, but I decided I had the choice to say how and when.  This may sound weird to many but as I stood there and took my electric hair trimmer and started to shave I felt a sense of freedom. When I was finished I looked in the mirror and saw another part of me – still me but looking a bit different. I realized as I stared in the mirror that I looked like a combination of my grandpa, my dad and Thomas Merton!  Wow – that was a shocker. So I put on some eye make-up, a little blush and lipstick, and wala – I then looked like my grandpa, my dad and Thomas Merton wearing make-up!!   I chuckled and thought, well it could be worse – I could look like the portrait of Dorian Gray!!!   Cancer and chemo may take away my hair but it isn’t taking away me.  I lost my hair but not my sense of humor.

Each of us is a piece of artwork to be treasured and cared for with respect and sacredness - formed, created and dreamed by God.  Cancer and other diseases do not respect the body or the artwork of our Creator. Outside elements and life challenges can attack us, try and destroy our body and spirit but we are more than the clay vessel – we are the soul and spirit the vessel encases – a part of God.  When I envision God as an artist I often think of my father, for he was an artist – a sculptor.  His artworks reflected  his relationship with God.  Every piece of work that my father ‘created’ has a part of him in it; from his time to draw his idea, to his love as the art began to take form in his hands, to the realization of his dream as the artwork stood completed.  Like with my father’s artistry, every piece of God’s work has a part of God in it, from the idea, to the love God has while the artwork takes form to the realization of God dream for all that is created.

I’ve often wondered what inspired my dad when he sat at his workbench and began to draw, to carve, to shape his artistry.   The same with God, I often wonder what inspires God to form creation. I have often asked God what God could have possibly been thinking when creating me!! In the end it really doesn’t matter what inspired the decision to create, for the artwork is a reflection of the Artist and we are all reflections of God, an artwork to be treasured.  We just need to remember that no matter what life challenges we face, we are never, ever alone for God is apart of us.

This part of my journey has been quite an enlightenment in many ways – recently this includes:  I’ve always been told I look like my mom but the reality is that without hair I look like a combination ofthree different men; that all my questions have answers; and that this may be a path thrown before me but I still have choices on how to walk it.  But the most profound and reaffirming enlightenment is that I’m not alone – never have been, never will be for God is a part of me.

By Susan Handle Terbay


3 Comments From Other Members
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3/14/2011 from wrote:
An interesting blog, Susan. You are taking this so well. As I have said before, you are very brave. This, too, will pass. And your doctor is right; one day you will enjoy coffee again and be up to full strength.
3/14/2011 Susan Terbay from Dayton OH wrote:
Celia - I'm no brave nor am I taking it all so well but I am facing this like I face everything in my life. I'm scared, I'm uncertain and I have no control over much in my life. I learned from my ministry for 13 years at hospice - I learned about living from those dying and i'm determined to honor their lessons and live life - even when to do so becomes difficult. I want to give hope to others as others gave me hope - thus the humor, thus the determination. I have angels watching over me from above and here on earth - I am because they are.
3/14/2011 Janet Glaser from Fremont MI wrote:
So happy to hear your strength throughout this ordeal. Knowing God loves you is definitely a plus in your recovery. I love your attitude. Ca't wait till you can taste coffee again!

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