There’s an old photo of me by the white picket fence in front of our house when I was
about 5 years old — I wore a pair of peddle pushers, now known as capris. They were black with pink designs. I thought I looked glamorous and the pose shows me looking
proud, no thoughts other than I believed that I looked great. Later on in life, my body
image ranged from uncomfortable self consciousness to eventual self acceptance. I
enjoyed decorating my body with fashionable clothes and jewelry so it could take me
where I want to go, with style.
My body took me on to trains and busses to work where I was fortunate enough to have
a meaningful career. It took me to movies, parks, and beaches, to the Fillmore East and
Madison Square Garden where I saw the best concerts — Santana, Moody Blues, The
Doors, just to name a few. It was an amazing time, no thought other than to sit back
and enjoy. My body took me to Watch Hill, a peaceful beach at the tip of Fire Island in
New York. The Long Island Railroad to Patchougue, followed by a walk to the ferry,
ending up in a mostly empty beach where we rested and sunned our bodies until our
skin became dry and brown, which at the time, we thought looked great. My body took
me home where I enjoyed the comforts of warmth, safety and good food. My body took
me to the Wailing Wall, The Great Wall of China, and inside the old city walls of Janina,
Greece where my mother’s family came from.
My body also took me to bookstores and lectures where I learned about eastern
philosophy and that there was more to life than just my body There was Universal
energy, karma, and meditation but at that stage in my young life I wasn’t ready to look
beyond my body and the earthly pleasures I was enjoying. I embraced the spiritual
teachings of Krishnamurithi and Ram Dass anyway but I wasn’t ready to embrace the
practice — at times it felt like more of an intellectual exercise than anything else. I was
living in what Ram Dass referred to as the Ego state. I was busy establishing my place
in the world with my career, my home and financial security, all of which gave me much
Then cancer came and both cancer and treatment ravaged my body. I lost 60 pounds 3
teeth, and all my hair. After treatment, my stomach was on fire for a few months until I
found out the right foods to make my body happy. As it turns out, making my body
happy is easier said than done. Exhaustion is a frequent physical state that I have
become very familiar with, and each time I go to doctors for post cancer check-ups, I
find more things wrong. Osteoporosis turned my bones into waffles, I may need
cataract surgery soon, physical therapy is a constant routine to bring my strength back.
Covid shots didn’t take and neither did the shingles shot, I’m immunocompromised, for
how long, I don’t know but with ongoing Covid variants I am always being careful, and
overall I am more aware of my body and what it needs then ever. When I look in the
mirror there is a new version of myself that I don’t recognize, though I am pleased to be
thin for the first time in my life. More recently, shingles happened despite the
immunization shots, immediately followed by a fall that resulted in a fractured shoulder,
a very incapacitating experience.
As I sat, taking inventory of all these changes I received a call from my gynecologist’s
office and learned that at 70 years old, my calcified fibroids grew. It made me think of
horror movies where the monster finally collapses, the victim rests easy only to see the
monster rise again, wreaking havoc.
Yes, after cancer has been a bit like that. As I went through a mental list of all these
ailments, I sighed with exhaustion and blurted out, “I am not comfortable in my body.” It
was an epiphany! Who is saying that? The very fact that I said those words implies that
the “I” in my sentence is an entity that is separate from my body. The “I” is not my body.
It’s existing in my body, but then if “I” is not my body, who is it? What is it? Ram Dass’
words then come back to me with new meaning. The ego is the body, the part of me
that lives my life. The part of me that says, “I am not comfortable in my body” is the soul
that is eternal and it is all connected to Universal energy, Consciousness, God, life-
force, it has many names. It becomes more clear to me: Ego, Soul and Consciousness
co exist and is connected — a vision of twisted pretzels with 3 connecting loops comes
to mind. The soul or higher self is an eternal being having an earthly experience but as
humans we are here to experience and learn and we receive guidance from not just our
higher self but from angels and guides to help make our earthly experience be one
where we learn many lessons. When we are able to connect with our higher self which
is connected to Universal energy, it is an existence that reaches far beyond our body.
As it turns out, while cancer was taking away it was also giving. I lost my sense of
physical well being, and my body is weaker and more vulnerable. My oncologist told me
that cancer treatment accelerates the aging process but while it was taking away,
cancer also opened up new pathways, inward, to a place of self acceptance and
greater understanding of who I was, who I am, and how I am evolving. I believe I have
become more resilient. Pretty things and physical comfort is lovely but the satisfaction is
fleeting. Looking within is synonymous to looking beyond to the energy outside my body
to Universal energy, which is where peace exists, something that we are all looking for.