One night nearly 20 years ago, I was standing in my garden pondering life when a book title came to me: Living as If My Life Depends on It.  I knew then that I would write this book someday.  For it made total sense.  I had built a life around intention and strove to live as wholly and healthfully as I knew how:  moving from the busy metropolitan East Coast to a rural farm in the Arkansas Ozarks, growing organic food, practicing and teaching yoga, training in massage and other healing arts, laying the foundations for a healing spiritual retreat center.  I grokked (and formally studied via a Master’s Degree in Energy Medicine) the mind/body/spirit connection long before mind-body became the household phrase it is today.  I wrote about and was published in quantifying the unquantifiable.  I coached others on making the link between formless and form, between mind and matter, between psyche, soma and soul.  In short, I aimed to live and help others live with meaning and authenticity, aligning inner and outer worlds, congruently embodying passion and ground.

And then, one sunny day in February of 2010… a pain in my gut led me to my nurse practitioner… who sent me to the nearby hospital for an ultrasound… followed immediately by a CA-125 (a blood tumor marker for ovarian cancer)… and then back to her office to have her hold my hand and say, “Girl, you gotta go find yourself a surgeon.”

So began my adventure through the world of oncology in the 21st century.  And driving away from my appointment that day I said, “I can’t do this alone.”

Everyone deals differently with a diagnosis of cancer.  Upon hearing such news, some people dive within and share their process with very few.   Others make movies out of their experience.  I chose a middle path, combining inner and outer by engaging a deeply personal process coupled with periodically inviting folks into my journey through my writing.  Every few weeks during the diagnostic phase and subsequent treatment, I would write one of what I would call my “epistles” and send it out to family and friends.  People were frequently touched by these stories and asked to share them with others.  Friends going through cancer confided that I expressed what they only wished they could.  I was told that my words could help a lot of people and was frequently encouraged to publish.  I love to write; it feeds me.  It is an honor that others find sustenance in my words as well.  If I—by illuminating my fear, curiosity, confusion, laughter, frustration, wonder, anger and love—can help others open to their own courage and wisdom, then my gift is serving a good purpose.  Thus, a few years after my medical treatment has concluded, I am sitting down to collect these glimpses into my story, windows revealing the inside of a journey through cancer and into a deeper, fuller life.

When out of the clear blue sky, life drops untimely bombs on our doorsteps, we have a choice.  As we watch our desires, plans and expectations disintegrate before our eyes,  we can argue, run and hide, cower in anger, fear and denial, or we can see this blast from the universe as the precious opportunity that it is.  Confronting death, literally or metaphorically—through war, natural disasters, accidents, the ending of relationships, job loss, evaporating portfolios, and/or serious illness—yields untold opportunities for growth, for deepening, and yes, even for love.  Yet spotting the jewels amidst the rubble, celebrating those tiny blades of grass pushing up through the cracked concrete, choosing life when every indicator is pointing to its opposite, is undoubtedly a warrior’s path.  It isn’t easy to embrace change we didn’t ask for, circumstances we didn’t see coming, wake-up calls that jolt us out of our comfy, cozy dreams.  It’s so much easier just to hit the snooze and roll back over, burying ourselves beneath layers of covers.

The explosion in my life was a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.   Yet while I got to deal with that and this is my unique story, this book is not just about cancer and it is not just my story.  This is about all of us and how we cave to or grow through the “cancers” we face down every day, all the ways that life and what we do with it can rob—or remind—us of our happiness and joy.  You’ll find here more about living than dying, a focus on warriorship versus victimhood, and what it takes to discover and stay true to who we are despite everything that distracts us from our goals.  Because anything less than this is the real death—the death of the soul underlying all the drama on the surface.  Some of these stories are about my experience with cancer and what happened since that day at the doctor’s office two and a half years ago; many more are about choosing to live every day like it matters.  I believe the simple truth is that it does.

Memoir—and appeal.  To me, to you, to all of us to recognize that living as if our lives depend on it is not only a catchy phrase, but may be the requisite choice for surviving both individually and as a species in bodies and on a planet that so need our loving attention and care.

So from Living as If My Life Depends on It to Living as If Our Lives Depend on It.  This is how this book got its title.

I invite you in.