Having recently attended a Sh’Zen Healing Hands workshop, I was once again reminded of the importance of touch. Sh’Zen’s renowned clinical aromatherapist, Tertia Mariott, gently guided us all through the amazing realities of energy levels in the human body and the stark realization that the skin on our hands reveals our true age.
Tertia’s knowledge of the world of essential oils and floral extracts opened up my mind to the wonder of creation and the sheer power of all things natural. Rosemary is energizing; tree oils have grounding properties; lavender clams us down; fruit oils give the body nourishing energy and ethereal flower oils have magnetic attractions. I could not stop myself from feeling truly privileged to be in the presence of this really remarkable woman. Tertia’s gentleness and strength permeated the room as we settled down peacefully to learn the art of a healing hand massage using the superb Sh’Zen hand product range.
We worked together in pairs and comfortably massaged gently fragranced treatment products into relaxed hands and concentrated on pressure points while discovering the exquisite link between reflex points in the hand to organs and very important areas of our bodies. All the while, I realized the vital meaning of sharing the human touch. I couldn’t help wondering just how many hurting souls out there could be blessed with these gentle healing sessions. Fragile spirits and neglected hands would find solace and nurturing in this peaceful environment. Once again gratitude overwhelmed me…..but I needed to pass on what I had just been privy to.
From the Nurturing Hand Sanitizer, through the gentle Perfecting Sugar Scrub, to the Treatment Cream working its magic in a neatly wrapped towel, the pampering continued. My two personal favourites, the Replenishing Serum and the Perfecting Day Cream, rounded off a perfect evening of sheer pleasure in the presence of like minded women, strong in their united faith and belief in a treatment range that far surpasses any other.
(Photos Courtesy of Google Photos)
A few weeks ago I had the special pleasure of visiting The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre north of Johannesburg. ‘The Centre is known for its breeding success of rare and endangered species. A tour affords the opportunity of viewing cheetah, African wild dog and various other species at close range.’* This quote from their brochure accurately sums up my experience on the day. I have never really been a crusader for animals generally; the well being of humans being more my arena of sympathy, but something changed for me when I witnessed the business at hand at De Wildt that day. Don’t get me wrong – I have never condoned the abuse of animals or humans in any form, but I have never been in an environment where I have been driven to fight the fight for animals. However during my visit I found a new found awareness and respect for the plight of these particular animals.
As I went into the cheetah enclosure, I gingerly wondered just how dangerous this placid animal could be and then realized very quickly what an honour it was to be in such close proximity to this skinny legged creature. Encouraged by Gail, my sister, I knelt down to stroke the head of Byron, one of the ambassador cheetahs of the centre. A special moment indeed…. others would give their eye teeth for just one such encounter! During a short information presentation the world of De Wildt’s inhabitants unfolded to reveal a whole new area for me and the dedication of man towards these fellow creatures became hugely apparent. Each staff member has favourites and the care and well being of every animal is paramount. In large enclosures that only fence them in for their own protection, life is as good as being in the wild.
I was recently privileged to attend an awe inspiring performance of ‘Stars of American Ballet’ at the Teatro Theatre at Montecasino in Johannesburg. As a passionate ballet fan, I was eagerly drawn into the strains of violins backed by a full orchestra, as beautifully structured dancers exhibited well trained bodies and exquisitely performed their steps. Stage images in vibrant colours showed off the artistic talents of well known South African artist, Ernst de Jong and added to the uniqueness of this production.
A quick glance through the programme produced evidence of a bevy of international dancers who all form the cast of ‘Stars of American Ballet’, under the artistic direction of Joaquin De Luz. As I experienced the grandejetés and precise pirouettes, I realized once again just how happy dance makes me. These theatrical treasures float me away into a place of joy and peace as I experience creativity and talent at its best. I always find myself admiring authors, songwriters, composers, scriptwriters, artists and choreographers for their ability to operate in such a fine place of creation. It truly is such anhonour to be blessed with the talent to bring new things into being, to the continued joy of others.
Over the past month and a few weeks I have had the privilege to nestle and heal in a peaceful and comforting haven. Lovingly prepared by members of my family with beautiful images of Paris and the Eiffel Tower (my ultimate dream destination); plumped up cushions emblazoned with French words and artistic designs; motivational quotes and words; a well stocked little fridge; beautifully decorated tins with delightful eats in their bellies; pastel coloured coffee mugs adorned with birds on a curved branches; numerous fragrant candles; a pure white clad bed and all this surrounded by one hundred hearts in a myriad of designs and sizes…… How can I possibly not heal in this ideal environment?
About ten days ago I visited my assigned clinic at the hospital for my regular weekly visit to a doctor and was pleasantly surprised to be invited to a makeup class. Cancer patients undergoing treatment at various hospitals throughout South Africa are treated to makeup and skincare classes by many volunteers from an organization called ‘look good feel better’.* I had visited the Internet one evening in search of various support groups for cancer sufferers and came across this very group. Imagine my joy when I was included in one of these wonderful pampering sessions.
What caught me totally by surprise was my emotional response to this huge gift. I am still baffled by the tears that prickled at the back of my eyes on the day and the flow of tears every time I share this story with anyone…. Was it because I was presented with something so normal out of my daily routine of radiation machines and unpleasant side effects from various other treatments? Or was it perhaps just because this was always my role over the years, to pamper others and now it was simply my turn to be blessed? This walk of mine has certainly made a mixed salad of my emotions and daily norms….
Oh my goodness, what a week! No one else’s testimony to fighting these dreaded cells could have prepared me for my own walk these past few days. I approached last Wednesday with certain trepidation and bravely faced all those bags filled with various medications to finally start my healing journey. My one real fear was that the nurse would not be able to find a decent vein anywhere, as he had jokingly commented the previous time, when blood samples needed to be drawn, that I must have sold my veins to the highest bidder! I really do have veins, but they are usually hidden somewhere and causes me much anxiety when I need to have any blood taken.
Thankfully this time around, the veins in my hand proved to be absolutely suitable for all those bags that needed to pass through my body. First there was a liter of potassium and magnesium mixture to prevent cramping during treatment; followed by 250ml of anti-nausea medicine and a second 250ml of medication that I honestly cannot remember anymore. Following hot on the heels of all of this was ‘the bag’ of another liter of the dreaded chemotherapy. This very unsuspicious looking liquid was the pre-amble to five days of absolute wretchedness. Oh yes, and finally another 250ml of a diuretic, which caused its own set of anxiety to get home in time…..
I love seasonal changes. Amazingly every aspect of nature adheres to the rules of the season and sheds leaves or produces new buds timeously. Even as a child I enjoyed trudging through piles of crunchy brown and yellow leaves when autumn came knocking on the door. During September, my birth month, the appearance of the first blossoms always signals the arrival of new growth, new green shoots and the promise of fresh new beginnings. Last week as I made my way to work in the early morning I couldn’t help noticing a huge pile of curled dry leaves that had floated on to the pavement right on cue with the crisp temperatures that denoted an imminent new season. The bright rays of sunshine that filtered through the almost naked trees added certain warmth to the cooler start to the day.
In March last year I was privileged to accompany a group of seniors to the Magoebaskloof area and to pay a visit to the ‘Lightning Tree’ at Kings Walden Gardens. This majestic tree towers confidently over the whole Limpopo valley and the impressive Drakensburg Mountains and is a stark reminder to visitors that once again, nature is a force to be reckoned with.
Once again this week I was reminded that many aspects of my life I simply cannot control. My treatment was due to start in 2 days time, but last Thursday I received a simple cell phone message apologizing for another week’s delay. I was devastated to say the least and gravely concerned about the impact that this delay would have on all our family’s plans. As disappointment made way for general groans and new plans, I was reminded by a work colleague that you do not mess with God’s plans and His timing. I promptly picked my lip up off the ground and realized that our lives are indeed controlled by a gracious and powerful Upper Hand.
Many different thoughts raced through my mind as I hastily tried to analyze the situation and make some sense of the cause of this new delay…. Had the hospital indeed run out of chemotherapy medication as had been reported on the news the previous night or was it really true that the simulator machine that would be the deliverer of my radiation was not ready for me yet, as the kind doctor had reported? Perhaps this is truly for my own protection….. perhaps someone else needs the chemotherapy more than I do this week, someone who has already started treatment and needs my bag of medicine to beat the heck out of their invader cells…… perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…. Eventually I gracefully surrendered to the fact that life is life and that I might never really get to the bottom of the reason for this delay in my present situation.
Over the last 2 months, various suitcases have accompanied me to and from family and hospitals as my life takes on a new norm of its own. I own a lot of various weekend bags and suitcases and these have pretty much taken their turn in meeting my varying space needs as I ventured along my new journey of medicals facilities and family homes. I battle to travel lightly, but am aiming to be an expert when this journey nears completion.
These travel bags are literally placed all over my ‘happy space’ at the moment, gently reminding me that the life as I knew it now has a mind of its own and best I keep up with the pace….. Within the next week to ten days I will enter an unknown tunnel of grueling treatments and unfamiliar side effects to bust this unwelcome invader out of my body! Yes, as you have guessed, my bags (lots of them!!) are standing with their mouths wide open, waiting for me to fill them up with sufficient clothing and necessities to last for the duration of my six to seven weeks of medical warfare.
Once again over the past few days I am reminded that amidst potentially negative situations, an item of beauty always presents itself. A recent overnight hospital stay offered me a ward with the most beautiful view of the Johannesburg skyline and to add to the privilege, I was awarded three different views all within the space of twenty four hours.
I was settled into this peaceful afternoon environment by approximately three o’clock and after a chest x ray and various other tests earlier in the day, the spacious ward and dozing patients allowed me a moment to totally exhale…… The large window panes of my temporary haven framed the magnificent panorama of hospital rooftops, tree lined streets, sports fields and white clouds building on the horizon. Further afield apartment blocks kept watch over the scenes below while adjacent to this, a prominent tower rose to greater heights with a red advertising logo emblazoned around it. Nestled amongst the green of the suburban trees beautiful stately buildings protected their history and secrets from my inquisitive mind. I tried desperately to capture on my cell phone camera what my eyes could see and what my soul was experiencing, but knew only too well that this was not possible as some things can only remain like a precious pearl in the oyster of my heart…..