Under an African sky

So there are geckoes in Africa. Many. Geckoes and slithery lizards, tree lizards and all manner of little and large reptiles.

As the year continues its march forwards, I am again reassured and guided by my three word mantra.

“Reorient, nurture and crystalize”

I have been moving towards a significant reorientation, and as indicated earlier, this was likely to be personal as well as professional. In my line of work, a change often involves a move to another country. I have now moved not only country, but after sixteen years in Asia, I have moved to a new continent. I now sleep and breathe under an African sky.

In consequence, this means a reorientation of the Feisty Blue Gecko. An alteration to the tag line, and an increasing change in character as I settle under this new sky. A sky where the stars do look different to me with their new orientation below the equator. The constellations are disconcertingly familiar, yet not quite aligned and set out the way I am used to them.

When I started to tell friends of my imminent move, one immediate question was about the blog. Would this cease to exist? With a completely different landscape and many so many different species of flora and fauna, were there even geckoes in Africa? Could the Feisty Blue Gecko possibly relocate from Asia to Africa?

The answer is fairly simple. There are indeed geckoes in Africa, as this little friend reassured me the other evening.

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Thus, the Feisty Blue Gecko remains, a constant in a world of change.

So we are undergoing our reorientation, the Feisty Blue Gecko and I. And as we start to get used to our new surroundings, the new phase will gradually crystalize in this new continent.

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I am filled with curiosity and have first impressions ready to share about my first days under an African sky.

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El Niño and the Gecko

Yes, it has been quiet.But the gecko is still here and life trundling along.

We are hearing a lot about El Nino this year. And we are most certainly feeling its effects. The heat. Oppressive and relentless. In contradiction, a massive hailstorm further north with hailstones the size of golf balls. Tropical hailstones? The talk of the town, as you can imagine. Drought and drinking water shortages. Frequent power outages. When the power is on, it is weak and unstable as it struggles to deal with the needs of the city. The fridge stops working and the food grows a small garden overnight. The fan turns slowly, when it turns. And the internet? At home it just does not have the energy to maintain  a link to the masterweb in the cybersphere.

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So I have been quiet on here. But there are tales to tell, and updates to bring. I have recently returned from that wonderful place in the Laos hills, where I escaped from the Water Festivals and rested, swam, wrote, watched the butterflies and listened to the crickets and beetles singing and calling in the trees.

Today I have escaped to another favourite space, where there is internet which seems to be a little stronger than mine. A special place for more than that reason. When I called here the other day to meet my visiting friend, she was enormously excited to show me what was waiting on the tree for my arrival.

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One very lively and feisty blue gecko. A wonderful reminder and prompt to seek out moments to share those tales and updates.

Up to speed

Some housekeeping is overdue!

I have been remiss in caring for the bloglet, and with updating on news from my end.  The last thing I remember, I was packing bags on January 2 and heading for Bangkok for the additional and scary review with Dr W2.  Now it is January 13 and I am not sure what has been happening in between times.

That is not entirely true, actually.  Life has been happening.

As soon as I arrived in Bangkok, I swung immediately into the “preparing for the tests” mindset with the gritted teeth and clenched knuckles that accompanies and characterises that tense time.  I moved through the checks like an automaton and was spat out the other side in one day.  Exhausted, numb and emotionally drained.    The main things to check were the clottability factor due to the embolism and of course, the dreaded tumour markers. In a nutshell, I have been released back into the wide world again and will be reviewed again in another three months.  The cloattability is pretty stable which is fine, although I do have that checked regularly in Yangon too so was not hugely concerned about that.  It was the tumour marker which was stressing me.  The important thing about the markers is the trend rather than the individual result, so it is important to see this over a period of time and a number of tests.  I knew that a further increase would be the most worrying scenario and was very glad that although the markers are still above the reference range, they have decreased slightly.  So now we just have to see how a trend plays out over the coming months, but I do have some reassurance and can breathe out for now.

That gave me a day in Bangkok to do around a week’s worth of chores and tasks and before I knew it I was back at Bangkok airport waiting to board the return flight to Yangon, along with a number of friends and colleagues also returning after the seasonal break.  I arrived home without incident, unpacked, ate, went to bed all set for the first day back after my break.  And indeed, before very long the alarm woke me, I forced myself to get up in the pitch dark, put on my swimming stuff, and some warmer clothing and shake the dust off my bike in a return to my morning routine before work.

The days have thus been full, with the early start in the cool (and now even cold) Yangon mornings and intense activity at work so my first weekend has been very welcome although it has brought quite a backlog with it.  Hence a game of catch up and a need for bloggish housekeeping.

While I was in Bangkok, I took advantage of the superfast internet and uploaded a few photos.  I decided to change the background picture here, and decided eventually on this image.

Angkor Birthday

This is a photograph from my visit to Angkor (Siem Reap) in Cambodia last year, a wonderful adventure and a truly confidence building exercise.  I loved the ruined temples, and especially the way nature and the temples have evolved with tree roots holding the structures together in some places and dividing them in others.  I was continually struck and by the resultant impression of man-made and natural elements in complete fusion.  As well as being a photograph I like, it has particular happy associations and that is how I would like to set the tone for the on my background.  There are many more photographs on the sister (photography) blog.

As we move into 2013, I remain enthused by my three word mantra (focus, treasure and design) and am embracing the coming year.  I am taking the time to focus in on what I want to achieve and draw up clear goals for my year.  And in a beautiful and unexpected gift I received from a friend and colleague, I have the perfect reminder.  A pair of stunning Feisty Blue Gecko earrings, something to keep me focused, to treasure and of an intricate and precious design.

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So with a galloping account of hospital visits, early mornings, plans and goals, Cambodian temples and opal earrings, I trust that I am now getting back up to speed.

Time for Cake!

Today is another landmark day.  Three years ago today, after yet another sleepless night with the weight of too many thoughts crowding my post diagnosis headspace, I took the plunge.  I had already been blogging as Feisty Blue Gecko for a couple of years, but needed a new online space for the new real space I had stepped into.  And this gecko-flavoured breast cancer blog was duly hatched.

Last year, on my second blogaversary, I wrote a long post with some background detail, and characters which have evolved as the blog has taken on a life of its own.  It is quite a blogossary.

This morning, I took a big step back in time, and visited that very first post when I dipped my toes into the blogospheric waters. And this is how I saw things then, on 28 October 2009:

This really is a record of the unexpected.  I don’t know where it is going, and I don’t know how it will look, but life changed 3 weeks ago and I have a lot to get off my chest.  Quite literally.

And the purpose of this?  To help me process and deal with what has and is happening.  To share one experience of what is a very common disease.  To tell my story as it unfolds, in a way that helps me.  And the rest…………….

This is the biggest and scariest challenge of my life.  Breast cancer is unknown in our family and I have not really been close to anyone while they have been fighting cancer.  But I have such a lot going for me, this is not going to be a tale (tail) of woe, (well maybe sometimes), but a rise to the challenge.  I have such amazing support – I am not in this alone.  I also know that much of this will be revealing and personal, but I have been encouraged by the number of other blogs by women with breast cancer so I think I’m entitled to have a shout too!  We are all different and I know my perspective will be different.

This part of the story starts on September 23 so there is a bit of catching up to do.  I will try and fill in the details and bring things up to date but it will take a bit of time.  This is partly because so much has happened, and partly because I am feeling the grand theft of many lymph nodes from under my left arm which makes typing slow and full of mistakes.  And partly because there is so much going on in my head which, as I said above – I need to get off my chest!

28 October  2009

I could never have imagined how important the blog would become in my life, and how many incredible people I have connected with, the friendships I have formed and the lorryloads I have learned.

And here I am, after three years.  Still writing.  Still ranting and venting.  Still reflecting.  Still making friendships and connections.  Still processing and deliberating.  And still getting a great deal off my chest!

So this is one to celebrate.  I even Googled “gecko cake” because it is much sweeter than Googling “is-this-funny-mark-a-sign-of-cancer?”

And guess what?  There are heaps and heaps of images of gecko cakes!  And not only gecko cakes, but even a gecko shaped cake cutter! Who would have imagined that?

So, thank you dear gecko and dear blog.  Here’s to many returns of the day, and many more years of irreverence and feistiness together!