Marifran Korb

Random Writings on Relationship

My Relationship with Disappointment

by on Feb.13, 2014, under Random Writings on Relationship

The usual winter news tells us of flight delays, people stuck in airports, others stuck in cars, houses cracking from snow and ice jams, followed by flooding when snow melts. Are you suffering winter weariness? It seems longer and more difficult this year in Cincinnati and elsewhere. There is more snow on the way, just in time for Valentine’s Day in this area. Wanting a way out, I know I can’t take a southern vacation. There must be another way to escape the winter malaise.

Has it felt to you that this has been a prolonged Winter of Disappointment? It is not over. For ten weeks, many plans have been thwarted by the weather. Before winter was on the calendar, we had winter weather. Hearing just the winter collective calamities locally and world-wide, it has been hard to take. Clearly I am done with winter. Knowing there are over five weeks remaining, I want to know how to make it through. My mood is dark. It is not fun for me to be around me. I need to change my attitude.

The irony is that I was prepared to hibernate. I expected to be recovering all January through March. Though surgery did not happen, I thought I would be fine taking time off from the world. Now the whole winter thing is getting tiring. Unable to turn off the desire to do something, I want to get going. At the same time, I feel stalled on big things, like finishing that workbook for publication.

Some other personal complaints are that I have had to miss important meetings. Birthday parties had to be canceled. Several group events were impossible to attend. Many exercise classes I blew off because it was so bitter cold out. This is only a small part of what I have missed. Everything is uncertain. The usual speedy pace of life has shut down to a cringe-like crawl. Getting out is challenging. Shoveling a long driveway several times a week takes an agonizingly long time, even though I am not doing the work.

Do you feel the insecurity of not knowing whether any event will happen due to possible snowstorms or ice storms? Have you ever been so bothered by winter that it is hard to concentrate? Have you experienced the inability to accomplish goals indoors when you cannot go outdoors? Does the shutting down of activities ever shut down your normally good mood? Does shutting down your mood ever lead to lack of accomplishment indoors?

One’s spirit can become tattered and threadbare in this rough weather. All the cold, snow and ice may be pretty on the eyes, yet freezing to the soul.

The disappointment can go beyond the avalanche of event cancellations. Have you ever felt you should not get disappointed, no matter what happens? Having been a ‘grown-up’ for quite awhile, do you think you should never get caught up in negative feelings? Do you think you should be above that, never being disappointed in circumstances, or in people? Do you feel you should not disappoint others either? Can you relate to any of this?

OK, your mind and my mind know better. As much as I’d prefer to never be disappointed and never to disappoint, I consciously know that is impossible. It is my emotions that are singing this song of deep discontent. While I must accept my humanity, at times like this I don’t feel I can dial it down, turn it off, or lower the volume. Really, I need to change my attitude.

How can I escape an emotional tune that haunts my head? In the course of writing this, telling the truth has me opening up to other ways to think about this.

1) Realizing that this insane theme song was a temper tantrum, I can start giving up the security of planning on outcomes for events and for accomplishments. It is when I am not aware, that emotions overwhelm me. In the larger scheme of life, I have it easy. My complaints are based on annoyances. My suffering comes from my own making.

2) Being realistic, I can remember that my family, friends and I have warmth inside our homes, and have all basic needs met. Outside of minor scrapes, no one I know has suffered a serious accident this winter. I have been super lucky, unlike some people in Atlanta, GA, who got stuck in the cold overnight in their car due to a winter storm. Others have been stuck in airports and some schools have kept children overnight to keep them safe. There are many weather problems I have not had to deal with this season. My complaints are lightweight. And they still need to be examined.

3) Examining my feelings more deeply, I found the real gray area in the emotional smokescreen. What I noticed is that when I do not get big projects done, I am bothered the most. Knowing this, the rest of my crabby feelings begin to dissipate. Moreover, I saw that I can only be disappointed by what I care strongly about.

4) Seeking support is everything. My friend and mentor, Sheila Finkelstein, suggested I start with realistic expectations. Her coaching is that I simplify what I attempt to accomplish each day. Sheila reminded me to break down the goal into pieces. So, I discovered chunks to achieve. That way, I can appreciate success, capture satisfaction, and realize accomplishment. When I complete and acknowledge small achievements, I see it is not an all-or-nothing world. Building on successes, I can enjoy more as I judge myself less. Thanks Sheila.

So Disappointment, take that! On another day, I will tackle the Need-to-Achieve Issue. Meanwhile, I have work to do; I have exciting chunks to choose.

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My Relationship with Cancer, Part 13

by on Dec.17, 2013, under Random Writings on Relationship

In the last 15 months the kidney tumor did not grow more than a millimeter. That tiny difference was in only the width of the tumor. The rest stayed the same. While that sounds good, I realize that it is not good enough.

In October I went to a new urologist, Dr. W. After looking at the known history of the tumor, he informed me that the one centimeter growth between the previous two years was an ominous sign. He contends that any growth at all indicates that there is a 90% chance the tumor is aggressive cancer, rather than the 75% chance it is cancer.

Deciding that I could no longer afford to risk the spread of cancer, I gave myself six weeks to try some new strategies. At the same time I continued to take many supplements, practice Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, and Reiki. No one can try all strategies, all supplements or all methods to heal cancer. There are a multiplicity of modalities. Presently, there is no way to know which healing methods or supplements would work best for any particular individual. After reading and studying all I could find, I followed my intuition.

Happy in the knowledge that I did all I could handle, I know I gave it my best efforts. My new approaches caused me to find wonderful practitioners in healing professions. These practitioners have become friends. I have met fabulous people along this entire three and a half year journey. I am deeply grateful to all the support I have received along the way from friends and family. The Cancer Center has provided helpful classes, including a weekend Reiki Program led by Reiki Master and Teacher Sarah Dailey.

Satisfied that I did what I could, I look forward to a surgical cure. While I won’t have one kidney, I also won’t have the perpetual CT scan surveillance, nor the threat of cancer spreading. Realistically, I know it could come back, and I am not expecting that.

On January 6, I will be in surgery as long as I get clearance from the pulmonologist. Then it will be three months of healing. This journey is not over by any means. There still will be check ups for some years ahead to make sure no cancer cells escaped into the blood stream. For now I am looking forward to a cancer-free future.

My dear friend, Sheila Bakely Finkelstein, gave me the book: Help Me to Heal by Bernie Siegel.

Here is a quote from the book: Healing is a process, not a product – a journey, not a single destination. When you’re healed, your body is not necessarily free of afflictions, but your life is.

Never have I felt I had afflictions, merely challenges to contend with. Meanwhile, I am expanding joy and celebrating life everyday. Looking forward to exciting and satisfying adventures, I wish the same for you, dear Reader.

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My Relationship With My Mother

by on May.07, 2013, under Random Writings on Relationship

Five friends and I use prompts to write for four minutes a quote. Using several quotes, we write for an hour a week. This was one quote from today:

When I stopped seeing my mother with the eyes of a child, I saw the woman who helped me give birth to myself. ~ Nancy Friday

For those who have read my book Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents, they know my relationship with my mother was difficult, at best. Grieving that I could not connect with her bi-polar moods, I loved her. While her gift of helping me to birth myself started earlier than I, or anyone, could be ready, and though helping me give birth to myself was a terribly painful process, my mother did accomplish that, for sure. Through not-so-loving ways, my mother’s darkness sparked the need and desire for me to love and be loved.

And due to neglect, my mother granted me self-sufficiency. By the time I was ten years old living in suburbia, I knew the local bus system and traveled wherever I wanted. Before I was out of grade school, I learned I could go anywhere, make new friends, and find my way. That has helped throughout my life.

For a few examples of self-sufficiency, I moved 500 miles away to attend college and worked to pay for text books and personal my expenses. My first post-college career took me over 1,100 miles from my family and friends. In my twenties, I designed an eleven country itinerary and traveled through Europe alone for eight weeks. Now that my daughter is grown, she and I travel to Europe in self-directed adventures for two weeks each year. In Europe, unexpected obstacles can and have shown up. Familiar with challenges, I have dealt with them efficiently and effectively. My mother’s gifts have made me grateful both for the life lessons and for the fact that those early experiences are in the past. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to every mother. May we all honor our mother for helping us give birth to ourself.

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My Relationship with Self-Expression

by on Apr.15, 2013, under Random Writings on Relationship

“Sometimes you need to talk with a two-year old just so you can understand life again.” ~ Unknown

A Facebook friend posted this quote with a picture. It depicted a little girl with sand soaked, muddy legs, arms, and clothes. Her head is between her sand soaked hands and arms and her head is on the wet sandy, muddy ground. Most of her blond wavy hair is touching the wet sandy beach.

Maybe no two-year old child ever has the concept of mud, of dirty hair, or dirty legs or dirty clothes. Everything is superseded by the desire for, and love of, experience. Certainly the two-year old Inner Child within each of us fears no discomfort if there is fun to be had.

One does not have to be just two years old to have this mindset. You can be any age. You just have to be free and willing to value full out experience over comfort.

Awhile ago, I was at sitting by the river walk on the Cincinnati side of the Ohio River. In a pretty yellow flowered short frock, a little girl of about five-years old, was hand-in-hand walking a tall man, two baby steps ahead of him at all times.

Suddenly, she led this man to a puddle. “Look, Daddy,” she squealed. Surely, he saw what was coming. Feeling tightness in my body, I cringed thinking that she was going to get her dress dirty and then feel uncomfortable with the water splashing all over her. At the same moment, I was surprised at my internal reaction. Clearly, I was projecting.

Watching the external and internal action unfold, I fully expected to see the dad divert the child’s direction and attention. No such thing occurred. Splashing in the pool of liquid with such gusto and glee, the young one smiled broadly, spread her arms wide, and circled in a dance.

Her dad did not resist, nor pull her away. After dancing she appeared to embrace every droplet of water by stomping at first with alternate feet, and then jumping with both feet. When done stomping, she kicked water like a football player kicking a ball in that rather large body of water for her little frame. Finally, she pranced away soaked, and satisfied.

Did this father have to sit her in the car with her wet shoes and wet dress? If so, he appeared unconcerned. Nor did he seem nearly as amused as I was in what just happened. He must have been accustomed to this self-expression from this beautiful, happy child.

I was riveted. It has been a long time since I had seen such joy achieved so quickly and naturally. Furthermore, it was free of monetary cost. And, I am sure it happened all the time with this tiny girl.

Asking myself some questions, I started wondering just when it was that I got so careful. When did I start trading in pure fun for comfort and ease? When was it that I gave up spontaneity due to an insignificant price such as the momentary uneasiness of wet clothes and wet shoes? For the five year-old girl, there appeared to be no discomfort.

Why was I so emotionally distant from this sort of happiness? Hadn’t I allowed my daughter daily as a child to follow her own expression with messiness? Yet, when was the last time I allowed that for myself? It’s not that I don’t take risks. I published a book I thought would be rejected. I traveled through 11 countries in Europe for eight weeks alone when I was 25. All the careers I had, I had to learn by the seat of my pants. For the nine years that I have been traveling to Europe with my daughter, I travel without travel agencies and do all the research myself. I take chances on renting cars and hotels, while knowing only small amounts of the language of each country. Yet, I wonder: What are the areas of my life where I am too cautious?

You can join me in considering this self inquiry for yourself:
Where have I cut corners to make life easier and not questioned what I was missing in self-expression?
How can I choose another option for my creativity to let loose like this five year old?
What do my self-inflicted walls consist of?
What can I do to knock down some of the walls I’ve erected to protect myself from open freedom and unadulterated joy?
What could occur if I let myself out of the comfort and safety that limits me?
What would it be like to prance into satisfaction?
How would that be expressed through me?
What would it look like?

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My Relationship With Cancer, Part 11

by on Aug.29, 2012, under Random Writings on Relationship

Today I had CT scans with and without contrast. Met with Dr. B who had good news and bad news.

The bad news is that the tumor grew.
The good news is that it was a normal growth for two years since the last CT kidney scan. Dr. B now says it is expected to grow 2 to 3 mm a year. The details of the exact difference in size were not in yet from the radiologist report. It will be coming soon.

Dr. B is still not recommending surgery because the tumor is considered small. It has a 1% chance of spreading. Due to the location of the tumor, surgery would mean loss of kidney, not partial loss. If I lose a kidney, my heart has 50% chance of being deleteriously affected.

The result was disappointing. It indicates that all that I am doing is not working as well as I had hoped. Back to the reinventing a new plan of action. First, I am going to do something fun.

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My Relationship With Popcorn

by on Jun.14, 2012, under Random Writings on Relationship

Since I couldn’t break my popcorn eating habit, I decided it was time to break myself of my microwave popcorn habit. I prepared by getting my popcorn directions from my friend, Dan Erdman. Not only a musician, Dan is a master at making popcorn to perfection. Not one kernel is ever burnt. His is the best popcorn I’ve ever eaten. Given that I’ve ingested a whole lot of it in my long lifetime, I consider myself an expert on tasting popcorn.

All the ingredients were assembled. Along with the three test kernels and the oil, I put the lid on the pan. Pop, pop, pop. The three kernels were perfect. Ah, all is well. I must be good at this, I concluded. Then all was ready for the rest of kernels. I closed the lid. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, I was listening intently for a break in the popping, so I would know it was done.

Uh oh! Smoke poured out and I smelled the pot burning. I knew what to do. Instinctively, I moved it to another burner, turned off the heat and opened the lid.

That last instinct wasn’t so good. The popcorn leaped all over my old-fashioned stove. Popcorn slid under the iron grill and multiplied out to all four burners.

Instinct came in again as I grabbed a potholder and moved the pan to the table. Not a good idea. The popcorn kept popping over the pan and onto the floor. Before I knew it, I had stepped on wayward popcorn. As I placed a hot pad under the pan and onto the table, popcorn spread all over the table, bouncing as it went. Burning oil laden kernels even jumped to my arms and hands. Rubbing my skin, I had no time to deal with my injury.

A major mess, I shook my head as I reassessed the damage. My skin was on fire and the pot was burnt. The kitchen looked like a disaster zone with oil and popcorn on the stove, the floor and the table. There was not the slightest payoff. The popcorn was ruined.

What went wrong? At first, I didn’t want to know. I was sure I had followed the directions.

Of course you, dear reader, know by now where I went astray. Finally, I figured it out. I did not turn off the heat after the 3 kernels popped. A rude lesson. Still, after scrubbing the pot for two days and cleaning up the stove, floor and table, I promised myself I’d make my next batch correctly on the stove and not go back to microwave.

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Celebration: My Relationship with Life

by on Mar.24, 2012, under Random Writings on Relationship

Basically, my philosophy is that life is a celebration. That’s why in 1993, I started my business “Rising To The Occasion” and became a Celebrations Consultant.

Even in difficult times, there is something to celebrate. If that seems foreign, then you can develop the frame of mind that creates that attitude.

Often people ask me how do I celebrate. That question comes from thinking that celebration is all rah-rah. Sometimes, celebration is simply honoring something by giving thanks quietly within.

Celebration can take almost as many forms as the occasions to celebrate. Most of the time, we don’t acknowledge what there is to celebrate. Presently, I am connected to Your Hidden Advantage, a company that serves busy people. My consulting service is part of Family Advantage: Celebrations.

More on this later.

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by on Oct.18, 2011, under Random Writings on Relationship

… the kaleidoscope of trees dressed in gorgeous shades of orange, yellow, and red. Evergreens give just enough green to accent the deciduous tree colors this time of year.

Change surrounds me and affects all my senses. I love the varied shaped leaves and how they fall. Some flip over and tumble-spin in a circular, somersault fashion and some plummet straight down in Olympic diver fashion. Some leaves swing and sway in a zigzag pattern, and some dive gently with no particular pattern. Each has its own dance of descent. It’s amusing, especially when many different leaves fall in various ways all at the same time.

The freshness of the air rejuvenates my sense of smell after the sultry summer. The shapes and colors of the pumpkins, the gourds and the corn appeal to my visual sense. Their textures stimulate my tactile sense. The strong, tangy smell of apples waft around me.

As in any relationship there are changes, and those can cause some slightly mixed feelings. Changes occur in the sunlight coming into the house at different angles and the earlier evenings. I feel some loss of direct light and warmth. When I come to terms with less light and earlier evenings, I find ways I can enjoy it. For one, there is more snuggle time.

When trees are bare, I enjoy seeing the trunk and branch structure. Each tree has its unique look. And when trees are leaf-free, I can see the sunrises and sunsets that are hidden by the leaves during the warm seasons. Every season has something to look forward to.

Taste buds change from light meals to heavier fare. Squash comes into my recipes, along with chili on the chilly nights. Hardy thick stew replaces thin soup.

Sounds change. Leaf blowers swap out lawn mowers. Crickets are quiet. Flies no longer buzz. The crackling of dry leaves under my feet tingle my senses. I’m ready to make a pile of leaves and jump in the center. Now who will join me?

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by on Aug.31, 2011, under Random Writings on Relationship

Since the last ultrasound, I have been enjoying life to the hilt. In April, Ed and I moved to a great home with trees and flowers all around us. A family of deer frolic through our woods. Never far away, rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks visit our patio often, even when we are relaxing by the fountain in the fish pond.

Last week I had an ultrasound on my kidneys. The bad news is that it is not smaller. The good news is that it is no bigger than it was. Today I went to see urologist Dr. B, my second opinion doctor. Now he is telling me that surgery could be in the future for me sometime.

The reason? My parents were long-lived and it’s possible I could live to be 90. While happily that is a number of decades from now, there are no statistics on the number of years a kidney tumor can be safely watched. According to Dr. B, it has not happened before.

In the past, doctors took out any kidney that had a tumor. Now they try to take only the tumor and leave much of the kidney. There’s no statistics or research information on what will happen over the years for someone who is expected to live as long as I am. In my situation, there are not a lot of people that have been watched over a long time. So I suggested that I would be the first. That’s a valuable contribution. Right?

“Your possible years left are a whole career for a doctor. Some young doctor will be following you and have to pass you off to yet another doctor. And no doctor wants to do that.” Dr. B conjectured this as if that was a bad thing. It is not for me.

Dr. B said I should think about surgery in a few years. I reminded him of his assertion a year ago that I could live with the tumor. He answered that he is giving me the other side of it now. Hmm.

Reminding him that a year ago he claimed that patients with kidney surgery can die a decade earlier than the national statistics, Dr. B responded that it is true when one whole kidney is extracted. Given that he thinks he can take out my tumor despite it’s delicate position near the blood supply, he downplayed the danger. We did not get into the problem of my lungs. I’m still thinking about this turn of attitude. For now, we agreed things will stay the same.

Meanwhile, I will continue to live fully. Enjoying every minute, I am not slowing down.

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by on Mar.05, 2011, under Random Writings on Relationship

What a week! On Monday February 28, I went to my pulmonologist who told me good news about a mysterious spot on my lungs. I’ve been seeing her, and getting pulmonary CT scans every four months. Since there are many reasons the spot could be nothing, I never worried.

The newest scan showed the spot looking less like a tumor and more like a cyst. It Is about 5 or 6 mm (half inch). So, I don’t have to get another chest CT for a year. That means I don’t have to see the pulmonologist for a year. Yea.

At the urologist-oncologist on Friday, March 4, Dr. B. reiterated my risks of having surgery:
1) The tumor is too near the blood supply, so there would be little chance to save any part of my kidney.
2) Losing a kidney can shorten my life by ten years due to stress on my heart.
3) Due to my compromised lungs, I might not survive the three- hour operation.

Inquiring specifically about the risk of not taking out the kidney, I asked Dr. B.: “What is the percentage of people with a small kidney tumor that experience cancer spreading outside the kidney compared to those whose cancer does not spread?” Dr. B replied that only 1 to 2% experience the cancer spreading and 98 -99% do not experience any spreading. He reminded me that it would be natural for the tumor to grow by 1 or 2 mm a year without the growth being a problem.

While I was at the office, Dr. B could not tell if there’s a size difference from 5 months ago when comparing the CT scan and the ultrasound. The radiologist report wasn’t in yet, though the pictures from the ultrasound were.

At 8 AM this morning, Dr. B. called me to say that the tumor appears to have gotten somewhat smaller. So, though it is still there for now, it is shrinking.

In six months, I will get another ultrasound and see Dr. B. Good news! Everyday, I imagine that tumor disappearing to nothing.

Thank you all for your good thoughts for me.

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