Dear Tina

It will be a year next month from when I picked up my cel phone while in Vegas during a conference to receive the news that the wacky black thing that had been growing in the back of my throat was indeed, not a tonsil crypt but instead was most definitely cancer.

Doc says:  “We’re as shocked as you. While we knew there was a chance that it could be, none of us thought that this is what the biopsy would come back as.  I wanted to reach you as soon as I could.  I’m boarding a plane in ten minutes…”

Some doctors are called to be doctors.  Clearly the level of mindfulness and care by my ears nose and throat specialist is from the ‘calling’ ilk.  I wasn’t just a test result on a piece of paper.  Note how I called him MY doctor. That happens when you’re handing your body over to an expert other than you.

He was going on vacation (or so I think), and wanted to catch me before he was unavailable in the air.  He had left me a message the day before, but I don’t pick up voice mail that often (that’s what voice mail is for folks), so he left me a text to call him on his personal cel phone.  To him, I was a mom, a wife, a writer, an artist.  I have a history and a future and the sooner he could reach me the better.

To me, he is a man who cares, with a specialty in the ear nose and throat department. Thank you Dr. Smith.  (No kidding, his name is Dr. Smith).  

After the diagnosis came in… well, that’s a whole other post, book actually. It’s on the move through me but hasn’t arrived in full yet.  For now, I want to share with you a little something that changed my life.  That sounds ominous, and while cancer is totally that, what I stumbled into is not.  See, a whole year before the C word arrived, I had started working with Chris Dierkes, whom I now call my ‘soul guy’ or the ‘soul dude’ of TinaOLife.  He’s a soul interpreter (What the hell is that right? – no pun intended).  Well, it’s difficult to explain the intangible (soul) with the tangible (words), but here it is in brief:

“Okay Tina, so think of it this way.  I’m going go to the ‘soul library’ and check out your ‘book’.  Then I’m going to read it and share it with you so you can fully realize it”.

Ohhhhhhh… that’s all. So, you’re taking my book out of the library? Cool. Got it. And then I’m going to get to know myself? Ohhh okay.  Well, that’s how it made sense to me anyway.

See, soul work doesn’t make sense, it feels sense.  For me that’s been my experience anyway.

So, what is the Dear Tina thing and how does it connect with cancer and with Chris and with soul work??? 

As you can imagine, post diagnosis, I was thrown into mental chaos.  It was as if I was a pile of sticks: legs upon ribs, jaw upon pelvis, toes upon teeth, thoughts upon terror, blank upon nothingness, despair upon acceptance. I was sifting through the gnarly bits because within them was me, a timeless me. One who was here before my body arrived and one who would continue on once my body left.  FYI… it’s not that I didn’t ‘get’ all of this before, it’s just that once I was thrust into the world of time passing without hearing a clock ticking because there is no fucking clock – well, it all just kinda fell into place because I was now out of the way. Trauma has a way of doing that.  It cuts through the noise of what we call knowledge or understanding. Hmmmmm… like really?  Who cares how much you think you know at times like this.  It’s cliché but true, you can’t take it with you. 

CT Scan

I couldn’t hear myself think anymore, or maybe that’s not really true.  I could hear everything I thought, the issue was that everyone in my head was talking all at once.  I couldn’t hear what I think… Just all what all of my experiences think.  You get that right?  All the voices in our head are just reactions to the various experiences we’ve had in our lifetime. I fell down the stairs once, now I have a voice that says:  hold on to the railing.  I’ve been heartbroken before, now I have a voice that says: go slow, trust slow if ever.  I’ve been applauded before, now I have a voice that says:  you rock, you got this, step out lady! See?  Those are voices from my stories past, but they’re not me as in not, fully, wholly, without reaction me.  Those are just my fragments talking (not soul fragments either – oh it’s so intricate isn’t it?).

So… there I was digging through bones from fragments past and I couldn’t hear the peaceful voice. You have one too. The voice that was with you when you were little and swinging your feet up to the sky all by yourself.  The voice that woke you in the morning while you were still sleeping feeling the warm summer sun on your face.  The voice that you hear when you were nestled deep, resting your cheek on your mama’s stretchy post baby belly.  The voice you can sometimes hear as an adult if you spend enough time with yourself. That voice. That’s the one I was craving to hear.

So I started to write.  

It came out without thinking.

I picked up a journal made for me by Ciel Ellis’ Thirsty Journals – (here’s the active link for the journals cause I know you’re gonna ask) and started writing.

Dear Tina… 

and then just like that, with a few deep breaths and a lot of following instead of leading, I began to listen to the answers to many of my questions.

Some people call it automatic writing with the idea that the pen moves without you moving it, like a spirit coming through you – mehhhhhh… maybe. Who am I to say that it is or it isn’t? I’m not interested in holding a position on it, I just know that when I surrender to the process of letting the story tell me instead of the other way around, I can hear that loving, peaceful voice again and I’m 45 years old in the centre of crazy town and not five and blissed out on my mama’s lap.

I think of this process as more of a way to cut through the noise and really listen to what my innate wisdom (or soul) wants to say.

Ciel's journals

After the cancer diagnosis came in, I needed to write because I needed to hear. This is what this post is all about.  It’s not about automatic writing and how to do it, it’s about what I heard and what I learned.

Here it is for you.  I am starting a series of Dear Tina posts on TinaOLife as a way to invite you in to the world and words that speak to and through me.

Dear Tina, Dear Tina, Dear Dear Dear Tina, What is going on in my body?

(I often keep repeating myself until I feel the ‘click’ of letting go of my own thoughts – call it ego if you like). 

Dear Tina, what is the story of this cancer in my body?

Why do you call it cancer Tina?  It’s a name only.  Breathe Tina, you may not be ready to hear this. 

I am listening.

You are dying Tina.  Your body is not dying. Your body is not dying. Your body is fine. Your body is holding a piece that is dying. You are dying. You as you as you have been is dying – this time this view of you is dying, this thought, this way is dying. You are dying Tina – your body is fine.  

There have been years of you. There is years in the thing you call cancer. You can let it die. You can radiate it, chemo it, destroy it. You are dying, not your body. Let it die.  

Let it leave your body.  Let the doctors do what they must. You can let it die.  

Do not fight the death of this, do not resist the death of this, this wants to die, and has been dead for a long time, the spirit of you died and has wanted to leave for a long time but you have kept holding on, kept transforming it into something else. It is time to let it die.  

A new you is transcending – a new you is waiting to move in, a new you like teeth is ready to come down into place. This is death Tina and not the kind you know death to be. 

Tina it is okay.  Let it die. Your body is fine. 


Dear Tina2

Soooooo… as you can imagine, I was a little startled.  That’s the thing about surrendering to the unknown – you don’t know what’s gonna come out of you until it arrives.

My take on this, and let me tell you, the truth of this message knocked me down like the anvil of grief that it was, I got it.  I had been living my ‘old, dramatic, deep, sad life’ for far too long.  I had been building accomplishment after goal after success on top of a graveyard of grief, and it was costing me dearly.  I was clutching and white knuckling the old dead scars of my story as my identity for so long that the powers that be decided to turn up the dial on my experience so I could wake the fuck up and decide to live.

Get it?

That’s enough for today’s Dear Tina… I just wanted to let you in.  There will be more, I assure you.  I jumped in today with Dear Tina for TinaOLife because I’ve been impossible to live with for the last week or so. I’m full of resentment and walking in a fog… I have had no idea why.  I decided to ask myself for some more answers, but I’ll share what I discovered later.  For now… consider yourself invited in.


p.s…. I’m feeling so much better. Clearly, all I needed was to be listened to.  Thank you Dear Tina.