Decision: A Message from Linda Nicholls

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes – and ships – and sealing-wax –

Of cabbages – and kings –
And why the sea is boiling hot –
And whether pigs have wings.” 

(from Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter in Through the Looking-Glass)


Wondering whether pigs have wings is not out of the ordinary for me these days.  In fact, the day has arrived – I believe it is possible.

I have now made decisions that I thought I would never make.  I have been teetering on the edge of the precipice for what seems like eons – for one hour in one day, and even sometimes for several consecutive days, I would believe myself ready to take the leap and then at the last moment retreat.  A few days later, a week later, a month later I would again be just about ready, telling myself tomorrow I will act.  Then go scurrying back.  A few times I fantasized myself actually leaping, flying off the edge into the open space and tell myself, this is it, I’m ready!  Then retreat yet again.

Now, it is done!  I am committed to a one-year sabbatical, beginning now.  Currently I am teaching my Grieving:  Growth and Change workshop at The Haven, and relishing every minute of it.  We end Monday, November 27, at noon and that will mark the beginning of my sabbatical.  As I type this and see it clearly staring back at me from my screen I expect a pig to fly by.

Describing my ultimate arrival at this decision is not as easy for me as some may think. 2018 will be my 72nd year on this planet.  I left home and have been working since I was 15. There are many such facts although they are not my primary reasons.

My heart is deeply intertwined with the people of The Haven in Canada and the people in China. I am profoundly dedicated to being of service through my work, so the tentacles of this decision are threaded throughout my being.  

For me the sabbatical is my commitment to wholeheartedly embracing and embodying what I believe is the transformational passage that I am experiencing. Being held and supported in many dimensions by amazing people like you is providing the enriching fuel for my resilience as I go into free-fall.

I am discovering that genuine transformation simply cannot be controlled, I have to truly let go, no half measures. Willingly surrender and dissolve into formless goo as the caterpillar does in its chrysalis in order for the metamorphosis into its completely new butterfly form to occur.  The caterpillar endures several moultings in the process along the way – I think I have gone through, and am going through, a few moultings myself.  Tiny bags of cells called imaginal discs activate within the goo and grow into the butterfly.  My desire is to discover, nourish and grow whatever imaginal discs lie waiting in the depths of my soul.  For that I believe I require some spaciousness and some compassion for all that this body of mine has been through. I have taken my body for granted, been arrogantly entitled about my health, indulging, pushing, driving, noticing the messages but then ignoring or overriding them, not honoring my body’s limits – for a long time.

There have been a few pivotal events inviting me to the edge of this leap.

One was a mystical journey that I experienced last year. The intention I had set for that journey was to shift to a new paradigm.  

I experienced my body, myself, tightly encased in a cocoon shape made of a grid of multi-colored lights.  I was in excruciating pain, making it impossible to be distracted by the magnificence of the colored lights. Try as I did to make something beautiful of it I simply could not, it was harsh, long-lasting and agonizing. As much as I wanted out, I was not released. Now I view this as the foreshadow of my current journey and the connection to my butterfly metaphor.  

A recent pivotal event was with a phenomenal Chinese doctor that gave me a treatment when I was in China a couple of weeks ago.   Although he was giving me acupuncture, after a while he revealed he is also a Qigong, Kung-fu master. He told me that my spirit is enormous, inspired, fast-moving, energetic.  And, that my spirit has been moving too fast for my body, taking off without it.  In other words my spirit and my body are out of congruence. You can imagine my surprise when he had me in a gestalt between my body and my spirit!  Not the usual acupuncture treatment.  He said my spirit will be just as happy to take off without my body, if they don’t start working together my body will simply give up and let my spirit fly.  Either way is just fine, it is up to me to choose.

I spoke of my deep fear of letting others down by slowing my pace.  For me that is my primary fear, although I recognize that becoming more and more ill, as well as dying is also letting others down.  I also mentioned other fears such as being replaced, forgotten, missing out – these are fears I find myself more willing to face, still not easy though.

He simply said to me, bluntly, “Right now I suggest you fear the cancer cells more.” 

I am emphasizing that I am taking a sabbatical, not retiring.  I fully intend to return from my transformational passage, as well as share my journey along the way.  My commitment is to creating spaciousness in my life focusing on compassion, creation, restoration, recalibration.   

When I was in China, I met with the people there that I have come to know and love over the years.  My current plan is that I will lead the Come Alive there in March.  I have also spoken with David Raithby and then met with my beloved Haven folks this past Sunday – my current plan is to continue to work with the teens this summer. However for the first time in I don’t recall how many years I will not be co-leading the January Come Alive with David.  Floods of feeling about all this are rushing through as I type now. However, I accept this as the nature of free-fall.  

I remind myself that I have been and am being held in ways that I never imagined were possible and for now I am signing off in a state of awe, wonder and ongoing gratitude.  More details and plans as they are formed.

Short medical update:  Another new and different experience.  I arrived home from China on Tuesday, the 15th, went to Lions Gate for my Herceptin and potential chemo the morning of the 16th.  The doctor whom I respect highly recommended that I do up to four more chemo treatments to ensure the highest possible effectiveness of the Herceptin.  I agreed.  Because I had experienced a reaction during the last chemo treatment, they gave me an IV for the antidote prior to the chemo IV which put me into a bit of a stupor.  I stayed at Jim and Barb’s (my brother and sister-in-law) and was well taken care of.  I managed to get myself home to Gabriola by Saturday, the 18th.  This time the after-effect was finding myself shaky, spacey, somewhat weak and some digestive upset. Jet lag likely didn’t help much.  I had to give myself daily injections to help boost my immune system.  This past Tuesday, the 21st I went back to Vancouver for my women’s group (over 20 years together now!) and to have some ultrasound tests at Lions Gate on Wednesday.  I woke up 6:30 Wednesday morning in the most unusual, bizarre and intense pain I have known, indescribable, there was no position I could get myself into for relief.  I cancelled other plans and drove to Lions Gate chemo ward.   They were very kind and suggested that the pain was possibly due to a reaction to the injections, they prescribed a medication, gave me a bed and a warm blanket and I laid there for several hours until it was time for my tests in another area of the hospital.  Fortunately, although the medications had quite a powerful and odd impact on me, the pain was alleviated, I got through the tests and made it back home by that evening.  Just today I am bouncing back after what seemed like being hit by a truck. Seeing so many friends at Haven, engaging with the group, and working with my team of skilled and caring assistants Gisela Sartori, Sean Kearns and Nicky Fast is by far the best medicine!  My plan is to consider each of the next scheduled chemo treatments one at a time as they occur. 


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