I’m back…

Sunset jumpAfter 2 1/2 years of falling off the radar, I’m starting up my dusty ole blog again. I know I don’t need to give any explanations of why I fell off the radar but at the same time I’ve questioned how long I can live in the “I lost my husband” fog? Not to others, but to myself. For 2 1/2 years I’ve been questioning what is my life’s purpose. Many of my friends would look at me compassionately, “You just went through something so heavy. Don’t worry so much. It will come.”  It would make me feel better for a day but then the very next day I’d be back to wondering what in the world I was doing with my life. As if raising two children isn’t enough…and why isn’t it?

It took me awhile to realize why this was such a prevalent theme for me. I had my whole life figured out and Lance was part of it all. So after the initial shock phase of losing Lance wore off and the second year reared it’s ugly head, I was COMPLETELY lost. I realized all the dreams I had, were wrapped up with Lance…every detail of my life had been planned out, all the way up to getting old and grey (yes I was a planner) and Lance was a part of every decade. Thus began the painful process of letting go. Ugh! Even as I write this my eyes are filled with tears. Letting go is a long and ongoing process…

For anyone who read my blog while Lance was sick knows that writing was my outlet. My catharsis. While this might not be my life’s purpose…it is an outlet for me. I like sharing whatever wisdom I can impart. I am not a nutrition expert, or a health expert, or death expert or a grief expert, or an expert on life or any kind of expert for that matter, I just have my experiences. I speak and write from those and from my heart. Anyone who knows me, knows I am an open book. So I am going to share…whatever inspires me at that particular moment.

And maybe, just maybe, I will find my life’s purpose along the way.

xo
Nancy

Needing your prayers

Dear Friends,

In case you’ve notice it’s been quiet on this end, I am ready to share why. A couple weeks ago we had some less than positive news about Lance. The first thing I want to tell you is we are done with MRI’s (ok, I am anyway…Lance will get there). It’s amazing how it completely controls your emotions one way or another and the tailspin it can create. These last two weeks, we have been devastated and grappling with Lance’s MRI results. When in truth, it is one part of the picture. A wise friend said to me “Our whole experience is through the glasses we are wearing.” (btw, this friend is a doctor). Meaning, Lance is not feeling bad physically so we are focusing on that rather than what a picture says. The picture is just one part of the formula. Not the whole picture. This may not be how some people would view it but this is how we have chosen to view it.

I was initially hesitant to share this news because of needing to just keep to ourselves and the emotions we have been facing. However, we have pulled ourselves up from our bootstraps and have a renewed sense of hope.

What we are needing (as some of our close friends have asked) is all your prayers and visualizations, in whatever way or meaning that has for you. This is our greatest wish and request. Especially hold Lance in your hearts and prayers (light a candle if you feel so inclined) on Saturday evening while a Native American ceremony will be being held for him.

With love and gratitude,
Nancy

Sit on your hiney!

In 2001, Lance and I spontaneously did a silent mediation retreat in Bodhgaya, India for 9 days. I had never even meditated for 5 minutes before. We would wake up at 5AM and go to sleep at 9PM and sit ALL DAY LONG. It was hard(!) but the euphoria I felt afterwards was beyond words. For years following that retreat, a consistent meditation practice was very difficult for me, but now, believe or not, I look forward to it. Due to our past year’s events, I was compelled and motivated to calm my mind. Now, meditating actually gets me out of bed in the morning. I wish I could will everyone to meditate daily because I guarantee it will have some significant changes in your life if you keep it up.

The difference when I get up and sit on my cushion vs getting up and checking my phone is HUGE!! I can literally feel the difference in my nervous system and how I react to situations throughout the day. I feel an overall sense of calm when I have a meditation practice and feel like I can face anything that comes my way.

This is what a typical morning looks like for me: I roll out of bed around 6:30AM and sit my hiney right on my meditation cushion. I used to lay in bed for awhile but this is THE thing that gets me out of bed now. I sit for 30 minutes, sometimes longer. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes in my day and if I could encourage you to do one thing (besides juice, eat more veggies, and laugh more!) than I would say try to create a practice of meditating and just start off sitting for 5 minutes! Work up to 10, than 15. All you need to do is breathe!! When your mind starts wandering, you acknowledge it and go back to focusing on your breath. It’s so simple! Well, kind of, I do sometimes start thinking about all sorts of random sh*t. However when it works, it really works. The way I look at it is, it’s kind of nice not to think about all the things I need to do or all the thoughts that come floating in my head on a daily basis for 30 full minutes! If you could do that one thing for yourself, over time, I guarantee, the things that you react to rather than respond, or those times you feel short with your kids or partner over something benign, or anxious over something small, will melt away. It helps with the big stuff too.

What really motivated me to start meditating was my beautiful altar which consists of gifts from my family and friends: The wood altar was made out of Russian olive by my friend Mikki, the Ganesh was a gift from our friends Jerry and Louis, the cross is a borrowed family heirloom from my friend Deli, Lance brought me the big clear crystal back from Brazil, the candles and chakra card were made by my friend Roxanna, the heart rock was found on the ground by Amélie, the purple crystal rock was a gift from my sister Lynn, the white crystal rock-a gift from both Zach and Amélie and the healing rocks were gifts from our friend Andrew. The photos behind are part of a six foot collage that Lance made for me as a gift for my birthday years ago. The whole thing is full of LOVE and literally grounds me as I sit in front of all these cherished gifts.

5-10 minutes is not that much of a commitment! Give it 2 weeks..every single day. I used to just sit on a cushion in front of our windows as the sun was rising. That was actually pretty motivating as well. Sit in front of the daylight or an altar that you make yourself, something that will create a space that will help you quiet your mind. It is PROVEN that meditation decreases stress which is one of the leading causing of disease. I promise you will reap nothing but good benefits if you give it a chance. OM.

Peace and mediation,
Nancy
PS: Post to come: teach your kids to meditate too!


 

Beautiful Boy

I’m in Brazil. My flight connected through Atlanta and I picked up a 17-year-old boy at the airport. I met him the last time I was in Brazil. He was here with his family. This time his parents entrusted me with his safety. Little do they know that his presence in my life is a much bigger gift for me than my semi-parental/big brother role here in Brazil.

This journey of mine since January has given me so many gifts and sitting in the Atlanta airport with a young man who as been battling what I got in January since he was 9 is an indescribable experience. Not only is this one of the few people in the world who knows truly how I feel, but he’s 17 and its as if he’s my wise old teacher. He’s brilliant, taking 5 Advance Placement Honors classes usually held for Seniors as a Junior in High School. He quotes intricate texts from the bible in simple ways, applying biblical lessons to my daily life. There is so much unsaid between us that doesn’t need to be said. It’s like we’re Vietnam soldiers sitting around a fire but one of us is a rookie and the other is a 4-tour lifer. I’m the friggin rookie. Hardly anyone outside his family and docs knows about his condition. It doesn’t define him, he doesn’t let it limit his potential in any way and he does it all with a great big smile.

So here is this beautiful boy who I know would have been beautiful anyway but I cant help to think that the tragic ailment we share has deepened him beyond all measure. I find myself looking up to him daily. The stuff that comes out of this kid’s mouth (and heart) is as extemporaneous as it is profound. Every once in a while he’ll call me “dude” and it’s almost weird. My wise old Zen Master isn’t supposed to call me “dude.” Oh, wait, you’re 17!

We were eating dinner and he starts telling me about Zacharias in the Old Testament who denounced Archangel Gabriel for saying his wife was pregnant. Zacharias was immediately unable to speak until 9 months later when the baby was born (John the Baptist). Teach him to argue with an angel! Then I try to pull out some smart remark about Saul going blind on the Road the Damascus, then he starts going into a very interesting story about The Road to Emmaus and I am engrossed and in awe at the same time. Am I really having these conversations about life and love and faith with a person young enough to be my child?

A small window into the life that I have now that you may find boring but for me everyday is like an adventure. I was so touched by Nan’s last post I was hoping to share with you more of the same from the other end of the world. These two young people have one big thing in common: Faith. They have faith in everything. Themselves. Their friends and family. And most of all a Higher Power that gives them the security to live every day to the fullest. They trust in this faith completely. And it’s not a blind faith or a fundamental faith, things I used to be so judgmental of. Its a faith full of love and forgiveness and smiles. Big smiles.

Nan and I have started to soak a little bit of this in and sometimes we lay in bed together and pray side by side in silence, I’m not sure to whom, and count our blessings. And you have no idea how weird it is to watch my fingers type those words. If you would have told me a year ago I would say something like that, I would have laughed. Little did I know, Nan was doing it silently for years and never told me.
Love from Abadiania,
Lance

Beautiful girl

I met a beautiful girl last week. She is 24. I was afraid to meet her. But I wanted to help her however I could. The days leading up to meeting her I felt nervous. Why, you are asking? Because she was diagnosed with the same thing as Lance two months ago. She is in the middle of chemo and radiation and I was afraid of the emotions it was going to bring up. Memories I want to put in the past, rather than relive. You see, I like the fact that the people I am in touch with are anywhere from 5 to 20 years out. That comforts me. But to be in the presence of someone who is just a few months behind us scares me. However, it was she who ended up helping me.

How we got connected to this girl is how the universe works. It was no mistake. It was meant to be. I wanted to share whatever knowledge I could give her.  We are ahead of her in this game. I researched like crazy. I have the food thing down. I wanted to suggest some alternative things. I have all the latest research. I wanted to help this girl who I just assumed was alone. I knew her family lived in another state. However, when I opened the door and saw this beautiful girl, petite little being, with the most amazing eyes, I immediately felt at peace. I can’t explain it but all the emotions and nerves I had been feeling up to meeting her melted away.

So what was it? I know you must be wondering. She had the most inner calm. She was at total peace. How you must be wondering? Faith. She has strong faith that all this is meant to be. All I could think was, “I want to feel like you do.” She was like some angel that had come to my door. Instead of me imparting my wisdom, I suddenly wanted to interview her Barbara Wa Wa style (as Lance has often named me) and figure out how she has come to this peaceful place so quickly. I mean, I think Lance and I have worked hard to find that peace and we have obtained that feeling at times for sure but I still struggle intellectually sometimes about what faith means. So I wanted to know. She didn’t give me a straight answer because it isn’t something you can intellectualize. It’s just a feeling. She just said, “It’s in me. I know I will be okay whatever happens. The Holy Spirit is in me.” OMG. She was the messenger.

Before all this, the subject of religion made me uncomfortable. However, when something like this happens to you, you need something greater than yourself to believe in. In the beginning of our journey, I started asking every person I knew if they believed in God. I was amazed at the answers I got and who believed. It seemed like unanimously everyone had some sort of belief in God and rarely (or never actually) was it some man with a hairy face up in the sky. To some it was “God is in nature”, something bigger than themselves, to many it was something inside themselves. This was hard for me to grasp because of my experience with Sunday school when I was a child and how I was taught that God is separate from you (man up in the sky kind of guy). Thus the difference between spirituality and religion. So I continued to intellectualize all of this instead of just feel it.

Again as the universe makes no mistake, I hired a guitar teacher (yes, I am learning guitar! :)). The first day my teacher showed up at my house, my immediate impression was all wrong (without saying exactly what I thought), he is covered in tattoos, his license suspended from a DUI, has 3 kids and he’s young. Do you hear JUDGEMENT screaming from every pore of my body? I am ashamed the way I sized him up. But my impression changed quickly as soon as I started talking to him. Turns out he is this incredible musician, a very involved Dad and yes, also someone with a strong faith. I learned about that when I noticed his huge Jesus tattoo on his arm. Now Jesus is someone I can relate to. He was one cool dude and you can’t deny he was kinda hot. Barbara Wa Wa immediately surfaced and I had to inquire about it. Now every time we have a lesson, I have a ton of questions to ask him. And slowly I am learning what it all means. Getting my own interpretation of how to find that inner peace.

My big take away from all this and the message I want to convey is that whatever it is you do or do not believe, find something that is bigger than yourself NOW to fulfill yourself and give you peace. Maybe it’s meditation, maybe its the Universe, Buddha, Shiva, God, Allah, Jesus, maybe it’s nature or being at the top of a mountain or swimming in the middle of the ocean. If you work on it NOW and figure it out NOW you won’t have to do the crash course us Gentry’s had to do in case something life altering ever happens to you (and i sincerely hope it doesn’t). But even as we age, and life takes on challenges that are different from our youth, it will carry you through anything you may face in your life. Take it from the 24 year old. Who wouldn’t want to face such challenges with such an inner calm?

Love and Laughter,
Nancy

 

Warriorship

I was hiking down Enchanted Mesa in the snow over the weekend thinking about being a warrior.

When I started this journey I was the “Mohawk Warrior.” Ready to overcome any obstacle in the way of my goal (staying alive). During that time my buddy, Micheal, surprised me at work with a present. A poster of Johnny Cash flipping off the camera with his guitar slung on his back. That was exactly how I felt and it hung over my desk for months. The first thing you saw when you walked in mine and Justin’s office was that poster and I loved it.

A few weeks ago I took it down. It didn’t feel right anymore. I’d gone to Bodhi School around that time with my kids (Buddhist Sunday school kind of thing put on by Shambala here in Boulder) and the teacher, Rachel, was talking to the class of about 50 children and she asked, “When you think of a warrior what comes to mind?” Kids raised their hands and said things like, “Ninja” “Brave” “Sword” “Gun” “Not Afraid.” Rachel then said, “A Shambala Warrior is a little bit different. A Shambala Warrior is not afraid of one of the scariest things. Does anyone know what it is? (Lots of little heads shaking.) A Shambala Warrior is not afraid to open their hearts to everyone and everything in the world. Sounds kinda scary doesn’t it? (Lots of nodding.) She said, “To just open your heart and let your heart be seen to everyone. Shambala Warriors live from their hearts.”

This was an unknown kind of warrior for me. But, thank God I decided to go to Bodhi School with Nan and the kids. It was as if Rachel was talking directly to my soul. I had recently opened my heart to the one thing I wanted eradicated from my body and spirit. I had realized this thing in my head has become a certain kind of friend, a very difficult one, but one that has taught me more lessons than anyone or anything in my life, and I was grateful to it for 2 big things: vulnerability and my ability to forgive.

My biggest healing and learning experience in this past year has been in a place of vulnerability. Something I hadn’t experience since being very young. To be vulnerable and surrounded by love on all sides from your spouse and parents, relatives and friends (all of you) is the most fulfilling place I’ve been on this journey. I would think that being a Shambala Warrior with your heart open all the time (I think it sounds scary just doing it for a few minutes!) must be a very vulnerable and healing place.

I also saw a bumper sticker at Home Depot yesterday that said “Love Your Enemies.” Something I’ve been working at lately but hadn’t put it to words. Now suddenly I had a reality check, because you can’t have your heart open to someone and not forgive them for past transgressions. I lay next to Nan every night going to sleep listening to guided visualizations while she reads. One of them says, “I know when I can forgive myself and others for errors of the past, I allow my body to heal.”
So Shambala Warrior here I come. Open, vulnerable, forgiving and perfectly healthy. I bet you can do it too. Don’t wait for some crazy thing to happen like I did.
Nancy still rocks as do all of you.
Still eternally grateful, Lance

Radiators and Windows

Hi (its Lance),I’m not going to tell you how great I’m doing or how completely and utterly amazing Nancy is.
We’re just back from a weekend up in Vail with my awesome family. Zachary and I did a 4 mile hike straight up the mountain. He talked about Legos (NinjaGo?) the entire time. We biked everyday, swam and saved a baby chimpmunk.I’m in a pretty crazy place where, “what was previously an obstacle now is a great help.” (Eckhart) My outlook on life and the way I experience life is almost surreal, like it’s not me living my life. At least it’s not my old self…I do really boring things like fixing our 50-year-old fence and wrenching my 69 Ford pickup. Recently, I put a new radiator in my pickup. My old self would have run home from work, inhaled my dinner and spent the night in my garage, going too fast, busting my knuckles, swearing and Nan asking every few hours, “when are you going to come to bed?” Now, I have this weird relationship with my truck, taking my time, admiring the old engineering, even feeling sad for having to throw out the 40-year-old copper and brass radiator (that has caused me years of overheating grief). The new radiator went in perfectly…here’s a picture, I’m very proud. I didn’t try to have a good experience, it just kind of happened and I know its because of my recent “life lesson.”

Yogananda said, “Your trials did not come to punish you, but to awaken you – to make you realize that you are a part of Spirit.” I didn’t like that when I first read it and it would have made me mad or scared me back in January but now fear is becoming a spiritual obstacle to win over with…love, I guess. I read a book (reading a lot) called, Into the Silent Land by Laird about meditating and it said, “If you want to make fear grow, run from it, hide it under anger or blame. No one will look for it there.” Facing fear, something I’ve not felt very often in my life, has been my biggest lesson.Nancy always shows off the stuff I’ve built around the house when people come over, but she and I know two things: 1) I didn’t enjoy building most of it. Hurrying, hurting myself (hospital once), I even cut the cord of my power saw a few years ago so I wouldn’t try to work anymore. 2) That every thing I build or fix has one little flaw. Sometimes BIG flaws. I always screwed something up and had to try and cover it up later (usually at 2AM in the morning).In recent weeks I’ve built huge bookshelves in the living room and put trim on the windows of our house, and I enjoyed it! Not only that but the bookshelves and trim are PERFECT. And when I mean perfect, they’re Lance Gentry perfect, which is pretty good but not Keith Hartnett or Derek Guarascio perfect. The strange thing is, is that I’m not trying to slow down and enjoy things and do them well, I guess I’ve just slowed down and am enjoying things, maybe for the first time in my life. I am trying really hard to do some things like: meditating every day (hard), exercise every day (easier), get plenty of sleep (easy), not obsess about work, eat really well (so hard), praying for grace and be forgiving and compassionate (praying is easy and fun), live one day at a time in the moment (hardest) and maybe its paying off in radiators. I really don’t know.

Joel Goldsmith says in Living with Grace, that when you meditate, you should listen for the “still small voice,” I’m listening like crazy. Then he says, “What does it sound like? It sounds like your life becoming easier, getting along better with friends and loved ones, work becoming less stressful (ha!).” Maybe that’s what’s happening, I really don’t know, but I’m taking it when it comes. I wish it was every moment but it’s still the biggest gift I’ve been given and amongst the chemo and crabbiness and being fed up with my diet regimen, it’s these special moments that were not part of my old life that are so priceless.I hope some of you can relate. Maybe you’ve had life changes that have forced you to look at life different. I’m happy to know that I’ll never look at life the same again.
Oh yeah, and Nancy is completely and utterly amazing! Did I mention that?LG

The Power of Prayer

We had an amazing summer ending with our two week trip to Hawaii. It was heavenly, magical and we relished every single moment (pics posted). We came back to our kids going back to school 2 days later (way to early!), Lance traveling for work and lots of out of towner visitors plus a music festival. It was kind of a crazy re-entry.

Now I know what you really want to hear about is our man Lance. He is doing really really well and according to one of the top neurologists in the country that is the biggest indicator of how a person is doing (more than any tests). Lance and I live in the realm of how he is doing right now and right now he could not be doing better.

Also, this past weekend our very dear friend who also happen to marry us was in town. He kindly joked that he was afraid to get in touch with us because I have made it “very clear for everyone to keep their distance.” We laughed and then I thought, “Have I really?” I hope you all know how grateful we are for all your support. You all have been a HUGE part of Lance’s continued healing. We feel so blessed to have had each and every one of you in our lives. I hope that I haven’t freaked you all out as to whether you can contact us or not. As we continue to move away from all the events that have happened this year and continue to feel confident in Lance’s healing, I am sure we will be more social and reachable but healing takes a lot of energy so Lance does his best to stick to a pretty simple yet rigid schedule. As for me, I feel like the Mother Lioness protecting my cub because I believe the common goal we ALL share is for Lance to stay on a healing path. So please don’t shy away from us but understand we are very focused on our goal!

Lastly, I wanted to leave you all on a little spiritual note. I have always believed in the power or prayer. Actually my sister Lynn deserves credit on that one, when she was sharing with me her beliefs on prayers almost 20 years ago. From that moment on I always prayed at the end of the day usually for people who were suffering or struggling, often times for people I didn’t even know or just feeling gratitude for my amazing life and all my blessings. I wasn’t even sure who I was praying to just some notion of a greater spirit, the universe, something bigger than me and it wasn’t like I was Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie kneeling by my bed with my hands pressed together.

Prayer has taken on a whole new meaning in the past seven months for us. So whatever it is that you believe in, don’t underestimate the power of prayer. It really is magical beyond belief. I say this because I know of many people suffering and sometimes it’s just simply a great way to end the day or a way to get your thoughts to settle or to not think of yourself but others. One evening towards the end of the summer, Amelie and Zach had been having a tough week (they had been spending a little too much time together) and Lance told them to pray to get along better. The next day sometime in the middle of the day, Amelie said to me all excited “Hey Mommy, praying really works! I prayed last night that Zachy and I would get along better, and today we are!”

I truly feel it’s the power of the collective prayer from all of you that has greatly contributed to Lance’s success.
Love,
Nancy

From Lance in Brazil…

Hi Everyone,
I am doing great. Needing to be here so much that with some urging from Nan I´m staying an extra week in my `Spiritual Frying Pan` south of the equator.

I´ve realized down here that I talk way too much. I read one of the best books of my life, Nan sent me down here with `Kitchen Table Wisdom`by Rachel Remen (thanks to Sheeri). And I thought it was a food book! Ha!

Rachel says that judgement can stifle our life force and judgement does not only take the form of criticism but also…Approval. “When we approve of people we sit in judgement of them as much as when we criticize.”

I´ve realized that I´ve sought approval all my life. From my siblings, bullies and popular kids in high school, work peers, girls, etc. Hence my blabber mouth.  People like me down here for who I am not what I am. There is a great prayer here, I´ll paraphrase. Maybe you´ve heard it:

The Invitation

It doesnt interest me what you do for a living
I want to know if you have touched the center of your sorrow
If you have been opened by life´s betrayals
Or have become shriveled and closed from fear of future pain

It doesnt interest me where you live or how much money you have
I want to know if you can sit with pain. Mine and yours.
Without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

It doesnt interest me who you know or how you came to be here
I want to know if you can bear the accusation of betrayal
And not betray your own soul

It doesnt interest me where or what or with whom you have studied
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
And if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

I want to know if you can see beauty
Even when its not pretty every day.

What´s far more important to me here is not what´s happening on a day to day basis in the 3rd dimension of our physical reality, (the horizontal plane) but what is happening on a deeper level (vertically), how I respond to situations I don´t like, that I do like, frustrations, fears, all of that. And this started in Boulder with all of you. Your outpouring of help and thoughts and prayers really shook me to the core. “Wait why are all these people being so nice to me? I didn´t do anything to deserve this,” kept running through my head. Then I put my head aside and started leading with my heart for what felt like the first time in my life.

Thomas Keating says, `We seek relationship with the Ultimate Reality (God, Buddha, Allah, Universal River of Wisdom, whatever) through listening to the first language: silence.  Thomas Cahill also said this in The Gift of the Jews. He says in silence you can here the `still small voice`of God. So I spend most of my days here in meditation with hundreds of other people. Three hours straight no getting up, then lunch and three more hours non stop till dinner. Its really hard but equally fulfilling. Nan and I did a week long sitting retreat years ago and it helped wrap my mind around the process, but my butt and back hurt a lot.

So many disciplines push meditation: Hindu, Yoga, TM, Buddhism, Shintu, Judiasm, Christianity to find the ´seat of your soul.`

So that´s some of what I´m doing, besides desperately missing my beautiful family. I realize I jumped into the 3rd dimension a little bit here and there. Oh well I am human.

Everyone here is so amazing, I wish I could explain it in words. I saw a Toucan in a tree near my pousada. Just like Froot Loops. His beak was so big I couldn´t believe he could fly, but he did. Beautiful red and yellow parrots are flying always overhead in pairs. I think of Nan and I everytime I see them. They mate for life and never leave each others side. There is profound meaning in everything here for me. I wonder if it will continue when I come home. I hope so.

I love you all and am endlessly grateful for everything you´ve done for me and my family.

Big Hugs, Mohawk Warrior