When cancer came knocking, Camilla Sanderson and her husband gave up lucrative NYC careers for a life of simplicity and love.
Here is a guy who swapped a Manhattan high-rise corporate office, and an 1890’s parlor level brownstone apartment with high ceilings and a wood burning fireplace located on the gold coast of Greenwich Village, New York City; for a maple sugar shack, a barn, a tractor, and a log cabin all located in the wilderness of New Hampshire.
And I went with him.
It took a lot to get us to the point of making such a drastic change in our lives, and the state of how humanity is interacting with our planet was a part of what prompted the change. We had been living lives where the value we placed on materialism was unhealthy for us. We were disconnected from nature, the change of seasons, and the natural rhythms of life.
While we had been considering making such a change for a few years, the final catalyst was my husband being diagnosed with a malignant tumor around his heart in October 2010.
In his mid-forties, I witnessed Jamie face his own death, and in doing so, he chose to live his life differently. It’s ironic that it often takes a crisis in love, money or health before we do the inner work that is necessary for the evolution of our consciousness and spiritual transformation. It’s ironic because the truth is, that every one of us will die. But it’s not until the point at which our death feels real and up-close, that we pay much attention to the way that we are choosing to live, and how that affects our inner and our outer lives.
Often what may appear to be an incredibly successful outer life, can sometimes be hiding a not-so-happy inner life. And the reverse can be true too – we may be leading lives of immense inner fulfillment, yet to an outside judging consciousness, it may appear to be a very ordinary life.
Are we at a point in history where people are beginning to care less about the outward appearances of financial success, and how the way we live our lives appears to others, and we’re beginning to care more about what is happening with our inner lives, and how we’re impacting the planet? Are we slowly becoming more conscious of what our inner lives actually are? Becoming more connected with the feelings we may be experiencing? Becoming more willing to express the real truth of who we are in the world, and manifest our soul’s purpose, because as a species we’re becoming more loving, accepting and compassionate?
I hope so.
I certainly feel like I’m witnessing this, and it’s a joy to see. It feels like we’re at a tipping point in the evolution of human consciousness, which is a pretty joyful time to be alive.
I realize as I witness the one year anniversary of the Sandyhook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT and listen to the parents of murdered children talk about love, compassion, forgiveness and healing, that this is another example of how a crisis can be a spiritually transforming experience.
Nurturing Healing Love by Scarlett Lewis and Natasha Stoynoff tells the story of one of the parents who has made it her life’s mission to create safer environments for the children in our world, and to choose love. (http://www.jesselewischooselove.org/)
I’ve heard interviews with other parents who are recognizing the political gridlock that’s being experienced around gun control laws, and they’re coming to understand that the change will need to be at a grassroots community level. One interview featured a parent discussing how laws were not effective in bringing down the number of drunk driving accidents, and yet the grassroots movements such as ‘designated drivers’ and ‘moms against drunk driving’ amongst others, were successful in bringing those drunk accident numbers down over time.
These are the kinds of movements that many of the Sandyhook parents have now dedicated their lives to create. What an amazing result of such a tragedy, that is also a crisis of our times.
To have one’s own child killed senselessly, and to find meaning from such an event, is heroic, in addition to being evidence of how this crisis has been a spiritually transforming experience for these parents.
A crisis can often bring out the best in people. A crisis can align us more closely with our soul’s purpose, and can be a spiritually transforming experience, if we allow it to be.
The truth of my experience with my husband’s cancer crisis, is that he’s a different man now to the man I knew before he had cancer. There are many differences in the way he chooses to live his life.
As can be seen in our outer lives, we gave up lucrative and successful New York city careers, in exchange for living a very simple life amongst the trees, more in tune with nature, and living a more sustainable life, which includes growing our own veggies and keeping chickens.
In our inner lives, my experience of Jamie is that he’s now more loving in a different way. Before cancer I experienced him as loving in a more ‘trying to please’ way – he was almost looking for my approval with his love. After cancer he’s evolved to where he is now able to practice the art of extreme self-care, and through truly loving and accepting who he is, his love overflows to those he holds dear. I truly believe this is one of the key elements in his complete healing from cancer.
That’s not to say he’s not human, he is. And he has his muck like the rest of us. And also like every human being, he now realizes that like the lotus flower, he blossoms not in spite of, but because of that muck. (This in itself has been a spiritually transforming concept for me to learn.)
It was through his cancer crisis, and the time and the space we had to be at home as Jamie endured the hell of the chemotherapy journey, that we both realized that the time was ripe to make a change in our lives. That was the gift of his cancer crisis for us both.