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Click to learn about Allison's music, storytelling, coaching/teaching

Click to learn about Allison's music, storytelling, coaching/teaching


Hold only what is yours to hold

A friend shared with me a Zen quote: “Do only what needs to be done – and nothing more.” I thought – why? Why should I only do the minimum when I could do soooo much more…? Well, that’s another story, another post.

But 4 months ago at the start of all this cancer craziness, that quote popped into my head. I was waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting… waiting for test results, waiting to take more tests, waiting for what felt like news on my fate. The first announcement from the doctor – “I think it’s cancer.” and the waiting for results to find out what kind. There was so much for me to hold – What could it be? What’s the protocol and prognosis for each option? What if…? And after learning it was anal mucosal melanoma, it was waiting to take the PET scan to see if and how far it had spread. What if? Somewhere some radiologist knew more about my fate than me. Again, all the questions, all the possibilities.
It was during these questioning times that the Zen quote popped into my head, but this time with a twist:

“Hold only what is yours to hold – and nothing more”

That was it for me. There are too many unknowns. I could live the pain and worry of each horrible possibility, but the worry has nothing to bear on the actuality of my situation. Hold only what is mine to hold. On October 28th, it was that I probably had cancer. Nothing more. On October 30th, it was that it was anal mucosal melanoma. I didn’t know what stage, I didn’t know if it had spread, I didn’t know much about the disease, and I decided that I couldn’t let myself until the doctor had MY results. Hold only what is mine to hold. All the statistics, all the google searches lead to a mishmash of results from other people with potentially very different circumstances than my own. Hold only what is mine to hold. And usually throughout this journey I haven’t had enough information, but I hold what I do have. And by holding only that, I hold room for possibility. I can handle it.

IMG_0464Today was day 3 of round 2 of chemo. Today and for the next 6 days I wait on the results of yet another ominous test. Unless, until I know I have something else to hold, I only hold what is mine to hold. This has kept me sane (relatively), lowered stress, and helped me savor precious moments of life, rather than waste them in worry.

So, hold only what is yours to hold – and nothing more.

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13 Responses to Hold only what is yours to hold

  • Wow! I shuld tattoo this on my hand. Thank you.

  • Beautiful, Allison.

  • Thank you for getting to the heart of the matter…

  • Hold hope and strength and optimism and expectations of great adventures to come once this silly cancer episode is done with. Much love!

  • You have moved me so much. You truly are a teacher.. I am speechless yet feel compelled to respond. You have been in my thoughts, my dreams, my prayers, my memories…

    Mi shebeirach avoteinu
    M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu
    May the source of strength,
    Who blessed the ones before us,
    Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing,
    and let us say, Amen.

    Mi shebeirach imoteinu
    M’kor habrachah l’avoteinu

    Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah,

    The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit,
    And let us say, Amen

  • Dearest Allison,
    You are gaining so much wisdom and Grace. It is strange how what seems to be the worst of circumstances brings with it, as long as we stay open, unexpected insights and blessings that brings us deeper into what is. God Bless you…you are doing it right. Your journey will continue to be a roller coaster, but as long as you abide with the stillness that you discovered upon seeing the deer, you will be in touch with what really matters…what its all about. Most of us don’t ever get to go there.
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. They touch my heart.

  • Dearest Al, you are an amazingly wise and wonderful woman! I’m enjoying your posts for the insights and gifts you are offering! Keep wishing we were in that car on a bright NM day driving to Taos singing our hearts out! I do hold tightly to those moments in this journey. Be well dear friend, XXX

  • Pal – I’ll leave the beautiful prose to you and just say – you rock. XO A

  • Allison,

    As I have done since the day Steve and I found out, will continue to pray for you and your family. As I sit and work and go through my endless emails from work and stop for a moment to read your diary truly puts life in prospective. Continued prayers for you!!


  • Dear Alison,

    Thank you for sharing this wisdom. It is calming on a day in which I really need calming. Thank you fair sharing your journey. Sending you love and prayers.

  • Sending lots of love Allison. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Powerful. Moving. Inspirational. The beauty of your words perfectly reflects the beauty of your soul. Thank you for sharing your journey and wisdom. Peace to you, my friend. And much love to all.

  • wow, thank you for this wonderful post, i will be reading more, i need to know more about what you’ve been going thru, it was so upsetting to just hear ‘rare form of cancer’ — i’ll catch up, for me you will always be the person trying to get to our high school work site. trying various and sundry subway, bus and car routes and never giving up. that was such a great class and wonderful working with you.

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