Do you ever feel like your life is not quite…normal? Like things don’t happen naturally and easily for you? Well… Let me tell you what I think about “normal”…
You see, I’ve led a rather eventful life, exceptional in some respects. I spent my youth careening through life, bulldozing any obstacles. I’ve had lots of lovers, I’ve traveled the world, I’ve tasted the spice of life in all its glory. I’ve connected with so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and I know what brings us together as humans. We’re all looking for the same thing, whether we are a farmer in Madagascar, a stay at home dad in Canada or a banker in India.
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.Carl Sagan
I met my husband late, during a period of intense travel. He’s a musician and a wonderful human. For a bit, we dated across borders. After a while, we got married and decided to ‘settle’. And that’s where the trouble began. I soon found out I was unable to conceive children, and infertility hit me really hard. Then, after a couple of miscarriages, about three years into non-stop fertility treatments, I found out I had breast cancer. No more babies, said the doctors. At least not the normal way… Unfortunately, adoption was also a no-go – so our plan D was surrogacy, with egg donation. We were fortunate enough to find an egg donor AND a fantastic surrogate very quickly, and this all led to… TWINS! That was a vast ethical and emotional adventure I could fill pages with. You’ll definitely read about that here. Our twins are fantastic. Our daughter is magnificent force of nature, a barrel of laughs and a stick of dynamite bundled in one tiny person… Our son is a tender, sensitive and luminous boy, who also lives with Down Syndrome – which comes with a set of special abilities, some challenges, but also taught us deep lessons about life and love.
But after three years of sleep deprivation and struggling to balance work and family, just as I thought my life was about to get normal again, the cancer came back. The second time around, I didn’t get off so easily. I had to go through the entire cycle of treatment (which I thought I had avoided by having a mastectomy – hurrah for the “easy way!”). This meant an umpteenth surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. Pain, disfigurement, and having to manage life-long consequences. Like so many other people, sadly, including my mom and sister in law, who both are Ladies in the most noble sense of the word. Hospitals are strange places, and I have so many stories to tell. Mine, and others’ too. Everyone there learns to fight like a wild animal, to muster all resources, and to drop all the non-essential crap that pollutes our lives and that most people call “normal”.
When it was all over I decided that I would NOT go back to normal. I would not go back to what had caused so much stress: running after money or prestige, in a job I no longer loved, pretending to be someone I wasn’t, or ignoring parts of me that were clamouring for attention. I would heed the call of my life-long dreams, change my life, change my job, and rethink my relationship to the world. To hell with it, I would give up “Normal”! and so… I did. I am.
And in this new process, here’s what I found so far: at every step of my life, whether I was experiencing challenges, disease and adversity, or whether I was surfing the high waves of success, I tapped into an inner source of strength, which has literally kept me alive both physically and spiritually. I don’t know where it comes from, this strength, but it has something to do with living a life that is propelled by Love. I am not a person of religious faith, but this is the closest thing to what people call Grace.
This blog is my way to lean into it, and to maybe share some of it. I acknowledge that my life has not taken normal pathways, but it’s taught me much more than I would have learned otherwise. It’s ok not to fit the mold.