Chasing Painted Ponies

Trip to Heritage Museum 149

Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.

Walt Whitman

Carousels.  Growing up, I never liked to pass up a ride on the merry-go-round.  Even now with my own boys, when an opportunity presents itself, I love to join them for a magical journey on the wooden horses.

What I remember most about carousels as a child … more than the mirrors, lights and creepy organ music being played—perhaps even more than the ride itself—was my need to thoughtfully search the carousel to find the perfect horse.  I loved finding unique characteristics … noble features that would make me feel like a princess (on this roundabout to nowhere).  Of course it was always necessary to find a galloping horse that went up in down.  I remember running to my perfect horse when it was time to get on, and as I looked ahead, I’d often see that overlooked stallion— a spectacular horse I hadn’t seen from afar.  Quickly I’d run ahead, eager to jump aboard my newly found beauty, then just as quickly I’d realize with a sigh, that my new friend is a stationary soldier, one that would not “gallop” up and down—a necessity on the merry-go-round.   Turning back to see my “perfect” horse, it was too late … another rider was “saddled” up for a journey on the majestic horse I had originally longed for.

The past several weeks post-surgery have been difficult.  As physical healing continues to flourish, the mental aspect of everything has really begun to seep in and though in some ways it’s been medicinal, in other ways it’s had a withering effect on my spirit.  I’ve had real time to wrap my mind around what has been … what is, and the unknown future that lies ahead.   Facing the unknown realities of the future often bring to light the significance of some forgotten truths from the past.

People in general have a tendency to long for something they don’t have or simply fail to appreciate the unique characteristics and beauty we’ve each been blessed with.  For me, as a little girl, I hated being a redhead. Though I came to appreciate my locks as I grew older, the moment chemo took all my hair, I not only longed for that long, thick ginger hair to return, I felt real conviction for all the times I didn’t appreciate it when I had it.  In a recent conversation with one of my oncologists, we laughed talking about how we always want what we don’t have.   I shared how I’d complain about my larger breasts growing up, always wishing they were smaller.   We then talked about breast reconstruction and the “silver lining” attached to breast cancer patients’ these days in the realm of options available—having “Hollywood” procedures at your finger tips to reconstruct your body/breasts to be fantastic and “perfect.”   Cue the crickets.  As I stood there dazed and confused … I imagined desperately how wonderful it would be to rewind time and take back all the foolish insecurities and longings I carried, and instead be content with what I had been given.  Silent, my only real yearning:  to have myself back completely, in every way.

Yes, many people do want what they don’t have—until they lose everything they thought needed changing.

During recovery, I spent a week’s respite on Cape Cod, visiting family.  I needed quality time with my boys, time with my thoughts (uninterrupted by the guilt of not being able to run a house as effectively), and most definitely time to get away from the big C . . . even though it unavoidably follows me wherever I go.  There, I was thrilled to spend a beautiful day at a historic museum with my Dad and the boys—one that also happened to have a classic carousel from 1908. Physically not quite ready to ride one of the beauties, I smiled, watching the boys pick out their “perfect” horse.   “Come on, mom!” the boys beckoned me to join them.  Logan, my middle son led me to the loof chariot … y’know that lame stationary sleigh ride that I never quite understood how or why someone would actually choose amidst the horses.  But there I sat, chasing the painted ponies … on a magic machine full of life going around and around—on my chariot.  I beamed watching my beautiful children ahead of me and realized there can be contentment in embracing change and the very real beauty that can come with it.

Radiation is starting tomorrow.  My radiation oncologist needed to make a few corrections, but I’m “tattooed” and ready to go—even had my dry run on Thursday.  Tomorrow begins my official 7-week cycle of daily radiation.  I will be doing what they call a “deep inspiration breath holding” technique to help reduce radiation to my heart and lungs, especially useful, as my cancer is on the left side.

I learned that the word carousel comes from the Italian word:  carosello which means “little war.”  How apropos that this thing called cancer has indeed been a “little” war physically, mentally and spiritually.  As I’m frozen, stationary on my chariot, the world continues to go around.  Thank God I love to travel, or I may have jumped off a long time ago.  Instead, I’m trying to embrace this season on the carousel, where though I may not feel like a princess on my chosen stallion, I can ultimately be content in drinking in the beauty set before me.   I long to appreciate this ride that God has orchestrated … and I plan to embrace the carosello as I continue to chase my painted ponies until the music stops.


I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.  I know that full well.

~Psalm 139:14

8 thoughts on “Chasing Painted Ponies

  1. I’m glad I convinced you to keep blogging. Don’t quit it’s healthy to have at least one outlet in life.

  2. No convincing necessary … I just needed to “jump start” my battery and have some introspective time to ponder life. Writing is indeed healing. Family & music bring me daily inspiration and are THE best outlet in life. Writing about it is a bonus 🙂

  3. I’m glad you’re going to continue blogging too. Sharing our stories = healing and empowerment, well, for me anyway. Terrific post. I relate to so much. I still long for the old me sometimes… actually, pretty often. As they say, we can’t go back (gosh, I even have a post called that!), but must move forward. Good luck with radiation. Thanks for writing.

    1. Nancy,

      Sharing openly and honestly is SOOO healing. It’s like working out, knowing how GREAT you feel when you leave the gym, yet still manage to procrastinate getting in the car to go. LOL

      Your light and love are instrumental in this community. THANK YOU!


  4. Your writing is beautiful. It is so strange how we might not appreciate something until we lose it. I also can relate to so much of your treatment process. I hope your radiation goes smooth. I think the first day is always the hardest just starting a new regimen.

    1. Thank you, Susan! I agree … I think the first day/week with this new regimen will be tough. I struggle to remember GETTING to radiation—especially with chemo brain LOL. Every day is consistent but tough. My memory is on “drought”-mode.

      Your blog is fantastic, by the way. It’s always wonderful to meet and share with kindred spirits walking on the same path. Thank you for your amazing work and voice in the cancer community.


  5. Wow…You really know how to make me see & feel what you have written, & it brought back great “merry go round” memories,& as you said the thrill of picking the most spectaculer horse fit for a princess! You amaze me….& know that you are in my daily thoughts & prayers sweetie…to the moon and back..Love, A. Vicki xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo…

  6. When I think of finding sea glass and carousels, I think of Nantasket and YES the merry-go-round was my favorite ride. I was just ‘racing’ with my 5 year old granddaughter a few weeks ago. Memories, music, mirrors and smiles all round!
    By now you are in the middle of your “little war” but be encouraged! Keep the faith. Run the race. And please know that many pray… and that indeed is what moves heaven. So glad that you can praise Him in the storm. Love, Peg

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