The Long and Winding Road

This week, I am once again in the heart of the landscape that I love most… The Blue Ridge Mountains. Were it not for the cold, I could live here. For some, the ocean sings a song that calls them home, and for me… it is the mountains. Not just any mountains, though. These mountains, rich, ancient and wise, which paint a picture of Mother Earth in repose.

A dear friend has a family home here, and when she learned that I was in retirement rehearsal, she invited me to join her for the annual fall family week in heaven. Their home has been in the family for generations and has such great history and energy, it is always such an honor to be invited. A great deal of the adventure is just about sitting on the porch to breathe in the soothing sight of it all.

I’ve come home this evening from a trip to a nearby mountain town to find the house abandoned, and I am alone with the fire and the sound of wind in the trees outside. If I didn’t know better, I might imagine that it is the soothing sound of ocean waves that shatters the silence and permeates the darkness beyond the living room windows. Looking up, I can see the luminous moon peeking in at me, as if to say: “What’cha writing, Missy?”

Yesterday and today brought even more delight, as I was able to visit with other friends who have homes on nearby mountains. There is a common theme in this connectedness. Each reunion provided the opportunity to go deep, to speak the truths of our individual journeys through challenges and into the gentle coming of peace.

It turns out that I am not the only one who has been presented the opportunity to transform a way of life without immediate clarity on how exactly it might turn out. Each of us were gifted the opportunity of presence for aging parents. Each of us have had to learn how to exist in a world vastly different from our former realities. Each of us have chosen a simpler life over the stressful intensity of that which we have left behind.

My friends have each experienced the mystery of divine timing, and the way that all things wonderful managed to fall into place, in the very best way to enable the glory of prosperity, joy, and happiness. Though I feel as if I am not quite there, I have chosen to release fear and trust that this glory shall one day soon be mine, as well.

The road from one mountain home to another was a long and winding path of beauty and contemplation. Upon arrival, I shared with my friends how much the drive reminded me of walking the labyrinth. Focus and intention is required, to keep your feet (or tires) firmly planted upon the path. If you are mindful, you can carry a problem or concern into the maze, and carry out inspiration or a solution.

On this particular drive, I was contemplating the way that this landscape fills my chest with a sense of wonder and delight. As leaves tumbled into the roadway, I held my breath until I was sure it was not a chipmunk crossing, grateful that I wouldn’t have to swerve off the road and over the edge of a cliff. I was overcome with the blessings of nurturing and maintaining friendships with remarkable people in my life, whom I adore, but have only ‘seen’ on facebook in recent years. And for that matter… considering the blessing of social media, which alerted these friends that I was heading their way and the greater blessing of invitations that followed with that knowledge.

The wind is picking up outside, and the roaring waves of tree leaves are crashing against the mountaintop, as I reflect on our parting. With full bellies and grateful hearts, we reflected on how wonderful it was to be able to fall into togetherness, as if no time has passed, and to look forward to when we shall make it happen again. I love the way that community can mean so much more than those living in our immediate surroundings. I am thankful for the breadth of my community of generous and caring souls, which wraps around the Earth and grows larger, with the reach of my writing. Seriously… I have the very best people!

Each night after dinner, the intention was to be on the road before nightfall, to escape the probability of driving those winding roads in the dark. But each time, the company was so wonderful and too difficult to leave. I found myself being witness to the retreat of sunlight through the trees, as the road fell into darkness. And it brought me, once again, to the image that my soul-daughter painted to describe my present and my future.

I am on a dark road, and my car is safe with a full tank of gas. My GPS is guiding the way, but I can only see what is illuminated in my headlights. I know that I will reach my destination in divine timing, but all I can do for now is exactly what I am doing. Keep driving, pay attention to what comes to light, and enjoy the beauty I find along the way.

As I contemplated this reality and this symbolism, the Universe did that thing it does that I love the most. It spoke to me through music. As I followed the darkened road, both literally and metaphorically, Stevie Nicks serenaded me with these words from her song, Lady

And the time keeps going on by
And I wonder what is to become of me
And I’m unsure, I can’t see my way
And he says, “Lady, you don’t need to see”

I am enormously happy to be in this car, on this dark road, guided divinely by the light of love. I’m unsure of where I’m going, and certain that I will know when I arrive. But more than anything… I am so thankful that you are here with me, and I hope that you might also be enjoying the drive.

Photo by Alex Jones on Unsplash

thelongandwindingroad

Indebted to Betrayal

I have a confession to make. I did a facebook search for that guy. You know, the one from thirty years ago who broke my heart and destroyed any hope for trusting men, or worse – myself. I had searched for him several years ago without resolution, but whatever drove me to commit this questionable act now, be it curiosity or boredom, this time… he was there.

I wondered how I would ever feel if I found him. My first reaction was a bit of a gasp for the shock of his actual existence. Perhaps that old wound I carried more than half of my life was real, after all.  I believe a lot can be said for the intentional healing work that I’ve done over the last three years, to realize that my second reaction was to notice there was zero emotional charge.

It was odd to peek into a life that, at the age of 20 I imagined would be a part of my own. The parts that were public included photos of family, and relationship status… divorced. There were pictures of his parents, whom we visited in Turkey in that year of our togetherness, and there were pictures of his brother-in-law, whom I met at his sister’s wedding that year. I searched eagerly for a photo that included her, because she had Cystic Fibrosis, and I wanted desperately to know that, somewhere around age 50, she had beaten the odds of survival with that fierce disease. Guess what!  She was there! What a glorious sight.

There were also pictures of his teenage daughter, the spitting image of her dad. There was one of her in an athletic school outfit, and one… of her shooting an AR-15 at a gun range. [dramatic pause]

When I think about the betrayal I felt when he came home from a college overnight event with hickeys on his neck, blatant signposts of his lack of regard for my presence in his life and home, I wonder how different my life may have been if this impressionable twenty year old girl in her first real-love relationship had never been betrayed. I mean, surely there are men, even at the age of 20, who would never consider living with a woman and making out with another woman at the same time.

So, if he had been faithful, and we had maintained our loving relationship, filled with mutual respect, adoration, and passion, following through with our plans for marriage… these photos upon which I was reflecting might just be the photos of my life, as well. Oh, good golly!

If he had not cheated and come home with such visual evidence of his betrayal, I might have never believed that I was not good enough. I might never have believed that no man could love me. I might never have believed that I was fat and ugly. I might never have believed that I could never trust a man with my heart, and that I could never trust myself to choose a partner well.

If he had not cheated – with my awareness, I might not have tried to find forgiveness, and when trust could not be rebuilt, I might not have stood up to insist that I deserved better, and he had to go.

If I had not been betrayed by him, I might have betrayed myself, by entering a world that did not speak to my soul… one that includes allowing a teenage girl (possibly from my womb) to hold a weapon of violence and mass destruction.

If I had been suffered to stay in a relationship that was not meant for my destiny, I would not have gone to that Women’s Conference when I was 23, which brought me to my people, my spiritual path, and my sense of belonging to something so sacred that it would bless me in ways of which I am still learning at age 49.

Today, I kneel at the altar of every goddess of love and destruction with gratitude for this betrayal. I am so madly in love with the ME that I’ve become, I would grieve for her loss in any alternate reality.

This betrayal led to my own abandonment, as I learned from my intuitive life coach three years ago. When she scanned for the inquiry of my love life, and the first thing she found was ‘that guy’ and how he had planted that seed that would take root from my sacral chakra into darkness. The problem was… that I had watered it so faithfully. I chose nurturing false belief in my lack of worthiness to be loved, over loving myself fiercely and showing others how it should be done.

From that first session, I went home with an assignment. I was to ritually cut the cords of bondage that kept me securely tied to this betrayal. She saw at least ten cords extending from my ethereal being to his. Already in the habit of setting intentions at the new moon, and releasing what no longer serves me when it is full, my timing could not have been better. My first meeting with one of my great teachers, was the day before the full moon in November.

The next day, as the moon reached Her peek of luminosity, I lit some sage and ran a hot bath. Into the steaming water, I added epsom salt, sea salt, drops of sage oil, and my sacred vessel of holding… my body. Dissolving into the symbolic womb of the Great Mother, I closed my eyes to find myself face to face with the one who unknowingly, would be a significant soulmate, despite his brief appearance in the story of my life. His purpose in my life was not to show me how I deserved to be loved, but to start me on the path toward learning to love myself.

As I cut each cord, I told him what they represented, what I had learned, and I thanked him for the lessons with which I was finished. Beyond the cutting, I made sure that all that was mine, and only mine, was retracted into my energetic being, and that healing light filled and sealed the areas formerly violated. I sent his own cords back to him, with love, light, and gratitude.

As I emerged from the bath, I allowed the sorrow and heartbreak of all that had been lost to spiral down the drain. Like Aphrodite, I rose from saline waters whole and renewed… ready to be loved and adored in the way that every being upon the earth deserves… even ME.

Three years after severing this bond, I do feel better and stronger in my sense of self. Of course, I immediately attracted someone into my life who brought a different kind of betrayal, but in some ways, I feel that was more about him than me. I’m good with that, too. I’m learning to more quickly identify the unwanted cords of attachment, and snip, heal, and move forward.

I do long for the kind of love that has eluded me in this lifetime, but for now… I AM ENOUGH.

aphrodite

Acorn Becomes the Oak

I have found myself in such an interesting place in recent months. I had heard the term before, from friends whose parents were aging and required a bit more attention and care, and while I don’t want to say that I am becoming the parent to my parent… I have to admit, it feels like we are moving into a sort of role reversal.

My sweet Pop has lived 80 of his 81 years with epilepsy, and in the last ten years it has really taken a toll on his body. I call it body betrayal, the way that simple commands the body once executed with barely a thought suddenly (or gradually) become tasks which require serious concentration and a concerted physical effort to perform. In 2008, Pop spent a good part of the year traveling to and from Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Test after test failed to reveal what was causing symptoms which impaired his ability to walk, to feel his feet and fingertips, and eventually… his ability to find words while speaking. I will never forget the day he told me that he was deeply depressed, and that he didn’t think he would live out the year. I was heartbroken, but I was also still working in a high demand, stressful job in the corporate world, which didn’t leave me with much time or energy to be of service.

Finally, he saw a local neurologist who reviewed the same lab results that Mayo Clinic ordered and reviewed, and my beloved father was diagnosed with a serious B-12 deficiency. Apparently, his epilepsy medication, his age, and the fact he was living with a vegetarian had left him seriously depleted. I later learned from a friend whose pediatrician had the same diagnosis, that if it had not been discovered, he would have ended up in a coma. The end result of this oversight for such a length of time was permanent nerve damage and neuropathy in his feet and from a lifetime of small seizures, down his left side.

So, Poppy has been using a walker to get around for the last ten years, and he and Mom moved closer to me a few years ago. I’d never really imagined living seven houses away from my parents, but I have to tell you that I am really glad to have them so near. I worry less than when they were 45 minutes away with no neighbors around to check on them. I don’t necessarily stop in every day, but I can glance over on the way to my house to be sure all appears well, and can be there in two minutes if they call for assistance.

There are a few new things that we are experiencing this year. First of all, in my role as careholder, I am witnessing my father’s stubbornness when I ask if he has accomplished certain tasks for self-care, and he informs me that he has not. Twice in the last two months, we have been to the dermatologist, and both times he failed to mention wounds on hidden parts of his body until we were getting back into the car when the appointment was over. He’s been falling down a lot lately (scans show that a compression fracture in L4 and L5 may be to blame), because his left leg just drops out from under him, and a few times we’ve had the lovely men-on-duty at our local fire department stop by for a “lift assist” when he wasn’t able to get himself upright. This was the very best tip ever, that you can call ‘911’ and tell them it is a non-emergency and that you need a lift assist. When they hear you have an 80 year old man on the ground who needs a lift, they transfer you immediately to the nearest available fire department.  Dad has offered on a couple of occasions to bake them cookies or invest in their children’s college funds. Seriously, we love these people!

Yesterday, he finally followed instructions and remembered to call me when he got out of the walk-in tub (I can’t say we loved the installation process, but we love that dad can get in and out of a hot-soak relatively well now). He said, “I’m out of the tub. You’d better hurry over before my toenails turn back to steel!” And within two minutes, I was serving at the feet of one of my heroes in his pajama bottoms, with reading glasses (for protection as much as for magnification) and a pair of industrial strength clippers. I made sure the talons were shortened enough, then applied lotion before putting on his socks. Next, I helped him put his shirt on and giggled as I exclaimed, “There he is!” as his head popped through the neck hole. (He’s a pretty good sport about it all.) I finished up my service by brushing his hair, and made him a bagel with cream cheese.

I am not sure what I thought this time in our lives would have entailed, but I’m sure I might have imagined it to be sad or tedious, but so far, it is not. For me, right now… it is joyful. I am one of the lucky ones, to have a father who is warm, kind and generous to all who are blessed to know him. He was a social worker who served the physically handicapped for over 30 years, after all. I don’t know if he imagined that some of the tools he made available to his clients, all those years ago, would be something my mom and I would be seeking for his comfort decades later.

Beyond any luxury that this year of freedom from the corporate world has given me, the freedom to care for my father, and be present for my parents is my favorite most sacred thing. I’m so grateful to have them in my life, to have them nearby, and to have this time to show them my love, my affection, and to be of service when the future feels shorter and less certain than they’ve previously known. I hope they know that every single day… they are loved.

acornbecomestheoak

Into the Fire

Wow! What a wonderful whirlwind weekend. It was filled with festivity and fire… oh, and… retirement.  It’s not exactly what you think.  At 49, I’m a long way from actual retirement in the traditional sense.  When I reached out to the financial planner that is enabling my friend’s retirement at age 59.5, I certainly had no idea that he could do anything for me in the immediate future. But when I expressed to him that I had exited the corporate world last year and how I felt that I could never return, he made a suggestion.  He said that my hard-earned savings could start working for me now.  There is apparently a provision provided by the IRS called 72T.  It was utilized a great deal when the market crashed, and jobs became scarce.  It enabled those who had to take lower paying jobs to access their retirement savings, without penalty, to receive a monthly income from their IRA until they reached retirement age.  It only allows a small percentage, but could provide the opportunity for someone who lives rather simply to focus on, oh, say… becoming a writer – without having to sell her soul back to the corporate world.

Once that exciting new beginning was set in motion, it was time to focus on the really important stuff… the celebration of our beloved Lynn.  We lost her to leukemia last fall, and it was time to celebrate what would have been her 68th birthday.  So, her wife and I went shopping to create the festive atmosphere that would express the spirit of our bountiful harvest of gratitude. We don’t really experience the beauty of autumn here in Florida the way that states north of us do.  In fact, our fall won’t come until February when the oak trees drop their dark green leaves and replace them with fresh light green leaves.  So… we decorate on the inside, while the outside continues to insist we remain in the season of Summer.  Lynn would have loved her birthday celebration on Saturday. The atmosphere, the intention, the music, and most importantly, the people. It was a small gathering of thirteen, a tiny fraction of those who loved our girl.  We gathered, we shared a meal, we each wrote love notes to Lynn on strips of paper that were rolled up and dropped into a bottle of orange glass.  She loved the color orange, and we loved getting to tell her what we loved about her and how she made us feel, and so we sent her our communal ‘message in a bottle’ as another form of prayer and gratitude.  We each spoke of our memories of one of our favorite healers… about how we fell in love with her upon meeting, how she sang to us around the campfire, how she taught us to be better people, how she listened with rapt attention and made us feel completely heard, and better – understood. We sat in awe of how she expressed to us that her weeks in the hospital, as friends came from all over just to sit with her, were the happiest weeks of her life. And we cried. Some tears were certainly from the sorrow of our great loss, and for her physical absence. But to be clear, most of our tears were joyful… for the glory of having been blessed to have Lynn in our lives… and to still feel her presence, to this day. When stories were shared, we blessed them with song. Two guitars, two dulcimers, one ukulele, one tuba, and one rainstick along with thirteen voices made up our chorus for the Angel who used to lead our choir. None of us could do what she could do to lead a campfire circle of song, but we tried… and we could feel her smiling upon us – as we read lyrics from cell phones.  She was the keeper of words, and without her, we simply have to make do. We had pie, and her grandsons blew out her birthday candles, knowing that her wish had come true in our togetherness. We finished the evening with creativity… manifesting our love and light through acrylic pour. She would have loved the way that you simply allow the color to flow onto the canvas and become what it becomes – without judgment or doubt… just appreciation. After all, that’s how she felt about each of us.

On Sunday, I returned to help with clean up and relaxation. The Autumn Equinox is a time of balance, when day and night are equal, and it is also a time for harvest. When I consider my personal harvest this year, I find it filled with more bounty than I could have imagined. I think I’ll save that declaration for another post, but I will tell you that the deepening of this friendship and being blessed to witness the grief, wisdom, and joy of my friend as she journeys forward from the loss of her beloved is at the top of my list. Together we discussed the beauty of Saturday’s gathering and how we could feel Lynn’s presence. Together we cried as friends and loved ones sent messages acknowledging the important date, and how she was being remembered far and wide. Together we shared leftovers with gratitude for the sustenance the Earth provides. And by the time we were either ready to head our separate ways for a nap or go deep into healing… we chose healing.

I spoke of nightmares and thoughts of past betrayals (personal and work-related) that had recently been plaguing my heart and mind… wondering why they were emerging at this moment, when I felt I was ready to move forward. My friend had her own sense of obstacles that were ready for removal, and she had discovered a useful tool through a meditation app we use called ‘Insight Timer’. The meditation was a Shamanic Journey called Rise of the Phoenix by Dakota Earth Cloud, and it was possibly the most powerful meditation / ritual I’ve experienced. It was more than a meditation because my friend built a fire and we called in the Elements and Spirit from Native American tradition.  We called in our guides, our ancestors, and our loved ones lost. I could see the determined and supportive faces of my grandparents, my Aunt Beth, Windwalker, and of course, our Lynn. When the fire was blazing, and we were about to begin, I fed the names of my offenders to the flames. Not in a way that would be harmful or destructive to any of them, four women and four men, but in a way that would be transformative and healing. “Thank you for teaching me, I release these lessons and any need for more through the experience of betrayal – I trust myself now.  Go in peace.”  By Dakota’s lead, this is what I saw in that dimension where the mind takes you when you step away from the mundane and into the mystery.

I entered the portal to this dimension through one of my favorite entryways… a cave. When I go there, I start at the edge of a clear water lake atop a mountain, where I swim through the reflection of the stars above, downward into the mouth of an underwater crystal cave. I made my way through safe passage by torchlight, and when the path split, I went left (as I often do). I was met by my guides whom I call the Sacred Fourteen, and they surrounded me as I stepped into the fire that was burning in the center of the space. From there I called out the names of those who had let me down. There were three bosses and one female friend, three lovers and one male friend, and as I finally expressed how I had been wounded – I yelled in spirit for how angry I was that they would put me in a situation where I would feel badly about myself… opening a wound where self-loathing and doubt would take root. The breath of fire and a shamanic drumbeat raised the energy for transformation, and as I yelled on the inside, I sobbed on the outside. I turned my head to the left to inhale through my nose, tapped my left foot, grabbed with my left hand (the side of the body that represents the past) and then turned my head to the right to exhale through my mouth, tapped my right foot, released with my right hand (the side of the body that represents the future), and I pulled up and spit out nearly 40 years of contained anguish. At this point, Dakota instructed us to ask our guides for help with this healing fire, and the Sacred Fourteen stepped in closer, and raised their arms to strengthen the impassioned flame to completely consume me. And as the roots of destruction were pulled from my being and burned away by these flames, I noticed that others had stepped in. To take the place of three bosses who betrayed me, came three bosses who loved me through it all (and still do). To take the place of friends who left through shame, mutual hurt, and confusion, came friends who stayed and stepped up to help me heal. To take the place of men who had cheated, abandoned, stolen, and lied, came men who had proven to me with action and presence that it is not ALL men who cannot be trusted. As I cried tears of sorrow, my friend’s dog Maggie leapt into my lap, licked my tears, and settled into my embrace. She stayed until my tears turned to those of joy. Surrounded by so much loving support, including that of my friend – standing within her own fire – adding to my healing flame with her intention, I felt the flames burn clean. There was no more debris to be cleared, all that remained was the light of my blue-white wings, as I rose like the Phoenix. As I looked down upon the circle of my healing, I recognized the faces of my love with gratitude. As if she knew exactly when the magick would be complete, Dakota invited us to leave this sanctuary the way we came in… and so I did.  Only this time, I was carried out in triumph by the Sacred Fourteen. They joyfully delivered me through corridor, now lit by my flaming wings, and to the edge of the cavern. I thanked them, and turned to swim upward through clear mountain lake, and rose above the water and into the stunning night sky. When we found ourselves back in our chairs by the fire’s edge, with our feet in the grass… my friend and I clasped hands, and thanked each other.  We were both aware of the work that we had done for each other, but more importantly… for ourselves.

Great Spirit – Thank you. It is done. Blessed be. Aho!

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Make A Wish

Hello, dear friend.  Tonight there will be a celebration in your honor.  It’s your birthday, and not one among us would miss the opportunity to give thanks for your birth.  Your beloved has been working hard on the setting, and it shall be a glorious sight.  Last night we put finishing touches on the Harry Potter corner, a tip of the Sorting Hat to your love of those powerful stories of friendship, steadfastness, and the ultimate message of love overcoming fear – always.  Tibetan prayer flags have been hung to allow the wind to carry our prayers to you.  Before they are lifted to the heavens, the prayer-filled breeze will surely dance with the lush plants and flowers of your memorial garden.

We cannot believe that ten months have passed since your body left us.  It’s a funny thing for those of us who didn’t get to see you often to contemplate this reality, especially when we feel even closer to you than when you were here.  I believe you have been walking with me, in your own magickal way, since my favorite day… that perfectly wonderful 11.5 hour day we shared in the hospital last October.  Do you remember?  It carries such a crisp beauty in my mind’s eye… your radiant smile that brightened not just the room, but the whole hospital, and surely… the whole world.

I had expected to find you at rest, on that day I had been gratefully liberated from the corporate world… the best thing that has ever happened to me… because it gifted me with that sacred day with you.  Oh, what a horrible loss I would have suffered had I been tied down in a thankless job, instead of signing up to sit with you.  What a delight it was for me to find you awake, sitting up in bed, talking with a friend.  When she left, I got to have you ALL to myself.  I loved reminiscing with you about our very beginning – an instant friendship of 25 years.  I would challenge you to find one person who didn’t fall in love with you at first sight!  At your birthday last year, I think you might have argued, indeed.  But not now.  Now, you know the truth.  You told me how you were astounded, when your beloved let us know that you didn’t want to be alone in the hospital, and that people drove hours just to come sit with you, sometimes in silence as you slept.  On my favorite day, I gloried in the radiance of your discovery… that you are incredibly valuable, worthy, and completely enveloped in love.

You taught me so much about grace that day, as you lit up as each hospital caregiver entered the room, and you expressed your deep gratitude… for getting sick.  I witnessed you telling doctors, nurses, and dieticians that if you had not become so ill, you would not have been hospitalized, and would never have understood the importance of western medicine, and how it could be so abundantly successful to be married with Oriental medicine.  That’s our Lynn… always learning, always teaching.  You told every person who entered your room, on that day you thought might be your last before going home, that you were grateful for their care… and I know that they truly cared for you.  It was present in the warmth of their smiles and evident in the gentle touch of assistance.

You and I made plans that day for our shared future.  I saved your text message from that day when your departure was delayed, as I headed into the mountains…  “Thank you for both yesterday and the promise of our future journey together.  I love you.  Make it a wondrous trip.”  Well, our future journey didn’t exactly turn out as we had planned, did it?  But, you know… I think it is turning out okay, after all.  I didn’t get to help you make your dreams come true… but I get to be witness to your beloved doing so.  She is following your lead, and I know that you are enormously proud of her.  You taught me about healing through grace, and she is teaching me about healing through gratitude.  Like many other things that have occurred this year, I am certain you have played a role in the deepening of our friendship.  We are both on this journey of leaving behind a path that shifted beneath our feet, leaving us breathless and then… enlightened.  We have finally figured out that time is precious, and it need not be neglected.  It is up to us to give it our love, attention, and devotion.  The time that we have upon the earth is sacred, and we have work to do.  But not the kind of work that is thankless and unkind.  The work before us is all about filling the time we have with more joy, more light, more love, more togetherness, more laughter, more… remembering.

So, here we are… gathered together… not in sorrow, but in joy.  Our souls dance to the music that you planted within our hearts.  Without you here, we may not remember the words, but we can hum along… eyes closed and chins lifted, ears cupped to catch the crispness of your beautiful voice upon evening breeze. Tonight we, this gathering of intentional family – bound by love, will light the candles of your birthday PIE, and though you will not have the breath to blow them out… we know that your wish has already come true.  We love you more!

My Post (17)

More than Grateful

Last night I had dinner with one of my soulmates.  Though we live in opposite corners of the country, we make dinner together a priority whenever work brings him here.  It was work that introduced us a little over a year ago, and without a doubt, we both know that the Universe allowed our paths to converge for the purpose of our soul connection and mutual growth.

It was at our dinner in February that he shared with me his diagnosis and prognosis.  At that time, he was on an experimental drug that would not cure him, but might prolong his life.  In actuality, it nearly killed him.  His body responded to the drug by shutting down his organs.  Gratefully, he was rescued in time, and recovered from the threat of modern medicine.  The oncologist had given him until Summer, and last night we clinked our toast to one another just days before the Autumn Equinox.

Since that February night, when he shared such a vulnerable truth with me, I have been asking him the important questions:  What is your joy?  His answer:  No one has ever asked me that before, Melissa.  And after careful thought, he further replied:  My husband of 22 years.  Okay, I say… if you feel you must continue to work, and can work from anywhere… can you go with him to follow his passion and work from there?  His answer:  I hadn’t thought of that!  And so, this summer – he did just that.  I had also asked the questions about his need to work.  I thought that if I had a fairly certain deadline, I would cash in my 401K, regardless of penalty, and utilize my hard earned savings to live my life more fully for the limited number of days remaining.  If I had a partner, I would ensure that our assets were protected in whatever way would prevent the bank from taking them to pay my medical bills.  I would then spend the rest of my days self-employed, with every assignment and task before me to be dedicated to love, joy, laughter, and procurement of peace.  He took some steps to feel more prepared, but has continued to work… feeling that he would need health insurance with his ‘pre-existing condition’.  I hate that anyone should feel this way!  I loathe the fact that we live in such a rich country, grotesque in comparison to many, which does nothing to care for the citizens who work daily to nurture its greatness.  The fact that a dying person should feel they must spend their final days in a soul-sucking role, forfeiting time with their loved ones to meet the needs of shareholders who care nothing for their well-being or how devastated the survivors will be, not only for the loss of their beloved, but for the greater loss of their time and attention when they were still living.

Last night, my friend shared with me that he is working twelve hour days for a company that does not value and appreciate him.  It is thankless work that brings him no joy, save for our dinners when he comes to town.  I argue that a corporation that would require an employee who is immunocompromised to get on a plane once a month would be complicit in his future decline, and yet I am grateful for each and every time that he lands in my city.

My darling friend longs for laughter which once was a daily ritual… and I feel he should have it!  Having recently learned from my financial planner that I can collect a monthly income from my IRA without penalty, until I turn 59, I asked my friend his age.  He declared that he had never shared his true age with anyone, but then confessed that he is already at an age where he can collect those funds, as well as social security.  Further, he noted that his mortgage is paid in full.  In other words, the only reason for him to sacrifice his valuable time to a corporation is for the fear of requiring health care.  One of the important notes within my end of life doula studies is about the blessing of hospice care.  I’m pretty sure that this is the one good thing to come from my friend’s prognosis… when one is given six months to live, they automatically qualify for hospice care.  I think people fear engaging such care because it might feel like a statement to the universe that they are giving up on life.  I wholly disagree.  Consider that one might engage hospice for the care that is their right to receive, while living in one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, and then set out to defy the prognosis of one’s disease.  Hospice will see you reach the six month mark, and adjust their sails to get you all the way home when the time is right.

So, I have challenged my soulmate to go home and do his research… and then to make himself his own priority.  His husband is already doing so.  My friend worries that he dotes too much.  He is blessed to have a partner who wants to be sure that he is comfortable, that he is well-fed, that he feels loved and cherished at every moment of every day.  With tears in my eyes, I assured my friend that I would give anything to have that kind of love in my life… and begged him to let go and receive it… to be saturated and enveloped by it.  I told him that when he retires, he won’t be coming to my city for work anymore… so I would simply have to come to him.  I am looking forward to that celebration, in his home town, one day very soon.  He has important work ahead of him, and that current job doesn’t deserve him.  His number one careholder, however, totally deserves every ounce of his energy, every moment of his valuable time, every rise of his laughter, and the blessing of being of service to the one person on this planet that he holds most dear, for all of his remaining days upon the earth – be they long or few.

My soulmate tells me that each time he sees me, he is filled with renewal and hope, as I provide sustenance to ponder.  The funny thing is, were it not for his presence in my life, none of this wisdom would have been available to me.  Had my empathic heart not been introduced to his courageous soul, the past year of my life might not have been spent in deep contemplation of my own joy and happiness.  It was that conversation in February that led to awareness of end of life doula study, and though I still am unsure of where this path will lead, I know for certain that learning more about death has taught me way more about life.  It is meant to be filled with love, light, laughter, and joy… and when there is suffering… it is meant to be honored, comforted, and held in reverence.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I am off to research flights to the other corner of the country.  Celebration awaits… and I have to develop a word that means more than grateful.

My Post (16)

Careholder…

I remember in my past life, the one that revolved around a stressful role in a corporate office, that each time I took an overdue vacation it would take me a few days to finally feel disconnected from the intensity and worry of what was happening in the workplace.  Especially in those last few years that were tainted by layoffs and the hostile takeover of the board of directors which were sources of extreme pressure for those I served.  Gratefully, I ventured forth from my new normal and into a vacation with friends last week free from that kind of stress… but I must confess that it has taken me a few days to shake free from worry.  My new worry lies with care and concern for my aging parents.  It is difficult to disconnect from this particular anxiety, for it is far more important than any corporate or executive angst.  I don’t think I’m alone in my lack of complete presence this week, for I know that each of us on this journey are carrying a similar weight.  One of my friends may be speaking, and I am running a movie of whether or not my father is comfortable, or my mother has received the care she needed for her aching knee.  I can personally recall the way that my parents jumped to action when I was sick or hurting, and now it is my father who is hurting.  At 81, a blister on the foot from lack of socks with shoes can become a dangerous wound requiring antibiotics and daily treatment… and a bedsore…. ugh…

One of my life lessons has been the overcoming of fear based thought.  I have been fearful of never being loved enough.  I have feared losing the job that provided security.  I have feared the suffering of beloved pets, and if I prolonged their suffering selfishly.  I have feared gaining back weight that was so very difficult to lose.  I have feared injury from which I might not recover.  All of these things were major challenges to conquer in the field of thought, especially since we tend to manifest what we think about.  The comfort and safety of my parents exceeds all of these concerns.  It is heartbreaking to know that these people who have been powerful providers of love and support are facing the betrayal of their bodies and that there is little I can do to make it better.  After all… this is life.

I would give anything to be able to wave my magic wand and erase memory loss, or the sense of panic that comes when landmarks are not as remembered and one feels lost.  I would trade the contents of my 401K to ease your suffering and make your body strong again.  I would wrap you in a cloak of comfort until you felt safe and knew that you would never fall down again.  If I could, I would hold you in my arms and rock you to sleep each night to help you feel whole and loved unconditionally.  I know that I cannot make everything right again, for this is the path we must each travel.  The body is not meant to go on forever… that is the task of the eternal soul, but flesh is temporary.  But love… love IS forever.  I will love you through every challenge you face.  I will love your memory, even when it only recalls the disappointment and rarely the beauty.  I will love your heart that has loved me for all of my days upon the earth, and the days before my feet ever touched the ground.

All of that corporate crap from my personal history book is rendered obsolete in every future chapter.  The time has come to nurture my most important shareholders.  I hope not to let them down.  But first… just a few more days of vacation.  I love you most!

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A Woodland Wedding

Early Friday morning, I headed to the airport with a few of my favorite people.  It was still dark when we arrived, but the sun was dawning on this new day as our flight departed the 90 degree south and set forth to the 60 degree north.  We were invited to stand witness and help celebrate the marriage and handfasting of two people we adore.

These two beloveds are among the couples I know that make me envy their togetherness.  You can see each light up at the sight of the other.  Their love is effervescent and warm… almost innocent with the obvious open-heartedness they hold for one another… as if neither has ever been hurt by another.  What a beautiful mystery… fearless love at 40.

Lovers of all things created by Mother Nature, the venue was a campground in Bar Harbor, Maine… recently closed for the season.  Not a camper, I found a beautiful spot across the street – a seaside cottage with two bathrooms and a fireplace.  This provided the best of both worlds, as far as I’m concerned.  One of the brides is the co-founder of our monthly Supper Club.  Five members were able to attend, and in this cottage we stayed… along with my life-long friend, who is my favorite adventure buddy – and my +1.  Together, we were one tenth of those gathered to hold space and reflect the light of love back at these two beings who capture the hearts of all they meet.

Our favorite Unitarian Minister presided over the sacred ceremony, though she would argue she won’t be ordained until January – she has always held this sort of role… a spiritual guide… for many of us.  The brides chose to be handfasted, which is a Celtic wedding tradition from which we get the term ‘tie the knot’.  I was asked to seek the blessing of their guests before the ceremony began, and carried the cloth that would bind their hands and their love to each guest and informed them that we are infusing this cloth with our blessings and good wishes for the marriage of our brides, so that their lives together would be eternally woven with the beauty and wonder that we each would bestow upon them.  Each loved one placed their hands upon the cloth, closed their eyes, and said a silent prayer.  When our Minister took her place between two trees, beneath a magickal chandelier, the Celtic cloth that contained our love was upon the marriage altar.

The first bride entered the clearing through a wooded path, revealing herself to be like the faery queen emerging from her hidden realm.  She was stunning in white chiffon and lace… and with the sight of her we had no choice but to fall into this dream.  The second bride entered the circle from the opposite side of the clearing, donning a navy blue suit and bare feet – an homage to her betrothed, whose feet are rarely oppressed by the burden of shoes.  She was lit by the internal flame of joy that is ever present when these two make eye contact.  The entire circle was aglow!

Each bride honored their families, those they came with and those with whom they were becoming one, and returned to the altar of their new beginning.  Their hands and hearts were bound by the minister, vows of wisdom and wit were shared with the glide of rings onto fingers, and tear-filled eyes met their tearful, grinning congregation.  A cacophony of joyful noise escorted the happy couple as they exited the circle, once alone and now together, back into the faery realm from which they came.  But the dream didn’t end there… it continued nearby with a whimsical reception beneath a canopy of white.  Tables were set with mismatched china collected and shipped by the brides, all to be donated to charity upon departure.  Table assignments were identified with names on postcards from the region in which we gathered, dating back to the 30’s.  The tables were marked with the names of pets rescued and cared for by our faery queen bride.  Imagine my dismay when I learned the ‘Oprah’ table at which we were seated was dedicated to the memory of her dearly departed tarantula!  The error was quickly remedied with a switch of spider name to doggy name… she loves me that much.  Ha!

With practically zero light pollution in the area in which we had gathered, more stars than I have seen in one place in my lifetime filled the sky as nightfall joined the party.  The Milky Way didn’t want to miss the celebration.  A large carpet placed upon the grass became a dance floor and the trees that hugged this clearing danced with sparkling lights projected to bring the starlight a bit closer to our reach.  My life-long friend and I used to go dancing as teenagers in the late 80’s, and feeling the youthful vibration of love and red wine, we made our way to nature’s dance floor to dance among the stars.  This is where we spent most of the evening… with old friends and new… like whirling dervishes in ecstatic devotion to the mystery and majesty of love openly expressed and shared.  These moments of celebration are when the divine is truly made manifest in our lives.

On this weekend made possible by the love of two nurtured by many, we were delighted to make new friends and grow our intentional community.  I love the way that joyfully authentic people attract more of the same, and how the blessing of being invited into a circle of such kinship envelops all who take the hands of those gathered.  Regardless of geography from which each traveled, whether the years upon the earth are many or few, if we’ve known each other for 40 years or 4 days… we have become ONE.  And we are grateful!

So, here’s to our beloved brides!  Here’s to bountiful blessings of love, light, laughter, joy, happiness, peace, prosperity, good health, longevity, moonlight and magick upon their marriage.  May we all be blessed to know such love within this lifetime, and gather in a circle of belonging to bear witness to the beauty of Mother Nature who holds us lovingly in her embrace.  We are so blessed!

WoodlandWedding

Random Messages from the Universe

In this year of introspection, a typical day may have been assigned a certain direction before bedtime the day before.  Today, I didn’t have a specific list of tasks, I just let my thoughts lead me.  So, it started with coffee and a bit of light reading.  I recently purchased a book that I’d discovered through posts on facebook.  I purchased a copy, not only because the words shared in random posts seemed to speak my language, but also because it was self-published and appeared to be well marketed.  I thought I could learn something from this author.  I’ve been debating whether I should self-publish the book I finished in April… you know, the catalyst for this blog, and frankly, the other side of the debate is the voice of an old familiar bully that inquires who will want to read it, and will it be worth the investment at a time when an active income is not present.  I recently made a new friend, a soul sister of sorts who found me through my blog after I posted my words on ‘pilgrimage’ on a site dedicated to Irish archaeology.  She and I spoke on the phone last week for 4.5 hours straight.  The synchronicities were endless, which explains why she found resonance in my writing… and more importantly, why the Universe guided me to post on that page a few weeks ago.  We were destined to meet.  Within our list of synchroncities was this book.  [Have you read this, because it reminds me a little of your writing?  Actually, I have it sitting right here, but I haven’t started reading it yet.]  This week, she texted me a couple of page numbers to look up… one reference that reminded her of me, and one that spoke to her current situation – which feels similar to my own.

Yesterday, I woke up to a tip from a friend about a course that she felt I would enjoy and find benefit.  This course was being offered through a well respected journal, which was mentioned by my new friend in our lengthy conversation last week – a suggestion for submitting my writing for the purpose of reaching more readers.  So… twice mentioned in one week, I felt it a sort of divine guidance.  There was an application process and a fee that would go through if you had been accepted into the course.  It was not a small fee.  I almost didn’t even think about it… I just clicked on the link, read the introduction, and started typing my proposal.  I spoke to another friend about it, and though she had no doubt I would be accepted, we wondered together if they would accept anyone who paid the fee.  Later that day, I received acceptance notification.  I mentioned this to a friend at dinner last night, and when I wondered aloud about whether it was my writing or my money that gained my acceptance, he wondered back why I would jump so immediately to self doubt.  Today, I found myself continuing the misery of toiling over my actions.  The class doesn’t start until the end of September, and I can cancel up to 24 hours before it begins and only lose the application fee.  I have been going over and over this internal argument, the core being a fear based thought of spending savings which is finite, but is also funding my year of freedom and exploration.

So, as I picked up this book that I’ve been holding onto to read passages referred to in recent text messages, I found resonance and support for exactly where I am.  And when I continued reading, forward and back, I found something else…  words on self-doubt.  Not wanting to use her words, which are sacred, I will refer to the Shakespearean quote that rose up from the page just before the poem that meant so much to my friend:  “Doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”  Huh… funny how the Universe uses people, places and things to inspire us and to provide answers… if we would only listen.

I took these words and felt I needed to go within to have a conversation with my stubborn, insecure inner self, so I ran a hot bath and scattered epson salt and essential oils.  I played a meditation that I recorded to be played at my own funeral, inspired by my end of life doula studies, and dissolved myself in salty, fragrant water.  I followed up that meditation with Phowa (poh-wuh) practice, which is a meditation from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which is suggested to be practiced often to be mindful enough to use at death or while supporting someone through dying.  In this practice, you connect with your form of spirit or Universal golden light before you.  You ask all negative karma, destructive emotions, obstacles and blockages to be purified and removed.  You say to the light, “May I know myself to be forgiven for all harm I may have thought and done.  May this practice allow me a good and peaceful death.  Through the triumph of my death, may I be able to benefit all other beings, living and dead.”  You imagine that the light receives your plea with love and compassion and that light is freely given to you as you are cleansed and purified by the Universal divine light… completely healed by the presence.  You imagine that your body, free of past karma, dissolves into light, and you become one with the divine light of the embodiment of truth… and sit within this light.

As I sat within the light, I felt guided to go into nature.  So, I got out of the tub and put on my bathing suit, grabbed my pool noodle, and went to the Spring.  I don’t think this is something I would have done a year ago… to go off to a public place without a friend in tow.  But I am not who I was a year ago.  I parked my car and planted my blanket, book, and towel, and took my noodle to the water.  I passed a big tough looking man on the stairs into the water, who was backtracking upon finding the water too cold to enter.  I assured him that it would help to vocalize while just pushing forth into the frigid fluid.  As I did so, noticing that my previous trips into these waters this summer allowed me to vocalize (imagine a kind of high pitched shriek) only briefly before finding my comfort, I glanced back to see the man I passed standing back away from the stairs, apparently defeated.

I floated into the water to find a spot that was free from the crowd.  Seated atop my noodle, like sitting upon a paper moon, I waved my hands and feet beneath clear water to take in my surroundings.  This is what I noticed.  In this crowd of people who had come to the park to perhaps escape the heat of 90 degree weather, or to celebrate the kickoff of a holiday weekend, or the successful conclusion of the first week or two of school, I was alone, but not lonely.  This was not the only indication of being in the minority.  Of the many people who had come to the park today, I was one of only a handful of obviously (read:  pasty white) Caucasian bathers.  Everywhere I looked, skin tones were darker than mine and languages spoken were different from mine, as well.  I asked myself how this made me feel, and this is what I got.  So what?  What I saw around me were people in love, holding each other and kissing as they shivered in the cold of the spring.  I saw daddies who loved their daughters, as they coaxed them to swim toward them from the safety of a floating ring of protection.  I saw groups of teenagers piling on shoulders to build a temple of joy and laughter.  And I also saw that the big tough guy had found his courage, and was gleefully enjoying this gift of nature with the rest of us.  I thought about that term to be “colorblind”, and what I thought was that I don’t want to be blind to the beauty of other cultures.  I want to see them with clarity so that I can celebrate them and feel gratitude for them.  I imagined how boring life would be if everyone looked, and spoke, and behaved like me.  What a fucking ripoff that would be!  No thanks.  I want to be surrounded by every skin tone, every culture, every language… and be witness to freedom, joy, laughter, happiness, peace, comfort, and prosperity throughout this gathering of divine humanity.  What a beautiful place I found myself guided to today.

I climbed out of the water and sat down to start reading this book I’ve been carrying for several weeks, and from the opening pages I found a story that is familiar.  Not exactly the same as mine… but recognizing that core wounds in each of us may be similar, despite the differences of our environment and circumstances.  I found myself arguing with the voice that negated my own suffering because it wasn’t as bad as what the writer endured.  I also heard that old inner bully telling me that this writing is extraordinary, and that my writing isn’t as good… so I probably shouldn’t bother publishing.  As I’m writing this, I wonder how I should reply to this inner bully.  Should I tell her to sit down and shut up?  Should I call her a liar and banish her from this reverie of connectedness?  I take a deep breath and have decided differently.  I have decided to take her into my arms, tell her that she is loved.  I tell her that her words are valuable, my words are valuable, as are the words of every being with the willingness and capability to express themselves.  It is through our words that we share stories, and it is through shared stories that we find commonality, compassion, kindred spirits, and homecoming.  Stay tuned to find out if self-doubt wins.  I hope it fails miserably, because frankly… I deserve better.  We all do.

The book to which I have been referring is Toko-pa Turner’s Belonging.  I’ve not even scratched the surface of its content… but I can assure you that there is great treasure here.  As mentioned, I purchased the book with a sense that I could learn something from her excellent ability to be seen.  I have a feeling I will find much more than I imagined.  For the beautiful and abundant way that the universe delivers with consistency more wonder than I could have dreamed for myself… your presence among them, I am grateful.  Thank you for walking this path with me.  Happy Labor Day Weekend!

My Post (13)

The Unrequited Lover

I’m about to get vulnerable here, and I hope it doesn’t make you uncomfortable. These thoughts come over me every once in a while, usually prompted by someone I know finding new love. I have been single for most of my life, though I have rarely felt lonely. Being an Aquarius means that from a young age I have had a plethora of friends from a multitude of backgrounds, with whom I have developed deep meaningful relationships. These friendships, carefully chosen, are incredibly fulfilling and pretty much free from drama. So… ultimately perfect!

I sometimes look at the marriages or relationships of others and think to myself, “thank goodness I’m single.” In fact, somewhere in the process of conquering self-loathing, I have actually fallen in love with my own company and sometimes prefer it… certainly over spending time with someone who lacks depth and attracts drama (not that I know anyone who fits that description).

My longest committed relationship, besides those of my cats Nightshade (19 years) and Gwydion (13 years), was with a woman. What I learned in those eight years is that you really can’t fake being gay. I fell in love with her soul, but my body never learned to cooperate. My therapist told me that I was the only client she had ever worked with who regretted NOT being gay. She will always be among my most trusted soulmates. We now live on opposite corners of the country, but try to share a vacation once a year, if possible.

I can count the men to whom I have opened my heart on one hand, and combined they were in my life for less than three years. The first one lived with me and came home with hickeys on his neck. This was a core wound at age 20, and I struggled to trust men after that. I did a lot of work and opened up to someone I met on a dating site and had to leap over a bunch of red flags, feeling that this must be what one must tolerate to have a man in her life. The last one landed in my life by geography… right up the street, in fact. Remember what I was saying about preferring a drama free life? Well… that just wasn’t possible for him. Forget red flags, he had red blankets.

The wounded child / woman I used to be when loathing was an emotion saved for myself and shared with no other, was certain that I had never attracted a man who would love me the way that some people appeared to be loved, because I was fat and ugly. I had this inner voice from childhood when I put on puberty pounds that informed me so… even as a size 10. I can remember being asked by an uncle and later by a male friend from church why I didn’t have a boyfriend… and that was the only answer that came to mind. “Well, duh! Who could ever love this (gestures to self)?”

Now, I’ve done quite a lot of healing and nurturing of that poor wounded child that I carry in my soul over the last few years, and I’m happy to say that she feels well-loved. So please know that I am not writing this for any kind of sympathy. It is just a type of wondering aloud, really. When a dear friend welcomes new love into her life, I am enormously happy for her (though I will admit that I had to learn to quiet my inner worrier… what if he breaks your heart the way mine has been broken?), but it also leads me to ponder what remains of my old wound to be healed. Could I possibly appear unlovable to others? I don’t think so… the love that I have in my life through the generous hearts of dearest friends is greater than the blessings of most people I know. After all, I have been single forever, so I have a great deal of time and energy to devote to the cultivation of a deeply caring community. Is it that I embody the Artemis archetype to a detriment? Do I seem too independent and unapproachable? Do people assume I’m already taken because I am so kind, warm, generous, and loving… surely someone remarkable won her heart long ago?

Speaking of living archetypes… I have long identified with Artemis. Part of her comfort delivered was that she never needed a man to feel whole. But recently I came across a video of an astrologer I follow who was speaking about Jungian archetypes, and how they are cyclical… we put on an archetype to learn the lessons our soul has come to learn. In his lecture, he confessed to his own relationship archetype being the unrequited lover, and that got my attention. Mostly because he was informing us that cycles do come to an end, and that the opposite of the unrequited lover archetype is the mystical lover. You can bet your sweet bippy that I lit a candle at the very next new moon with the intention of letting go of the old and receiving the new! Ha!

There’s another theory that goes along with the description of an empath. It is that we are the wounded healers. We experience from an early age the difficulties and disappointments in life that allow us to relate to and help comfort others. I cannot deny that throughout my life, I have had the words that could bring comfort to a friend who was hurting. So, if this is the purpose for my lonely path… I wouldn’t change a thing. I think I have been a better friend for the lack of a partner to distract me from being generous with my love and available with my time.

In the last few days, two of my friends who have been single for a length of time, but who have had significant love in their lives in the past, have each announced finding someone new with whom they are exploring all of the fun stuff that comes with a kind of connectedness that alerts the soul to potential partnership. And I will confess to quieting the inner protective voice, reminding myself that many people have found wonderful, amazing, loving partnerships… and that my own experience is not the norm for most lucky souls. I will also confess to the rise of a tiny little voice from within, you know… that well-loved inner child who once thought she wasn’t good enough, but recently figured out that she is pretty fucking fabulous… saying, “Hmmm… I wonder if this will ever happen to me.”

My answer to that sweet girl? “Be patient, beloved. He is on his way, and you will find him to be totally worth the wait.” Unrequited Lover… meet the new girl in town. We call her Mysti. *giggles to herself*

My Post (12)

Love Unlimited

Last weekend, I drove nearly four hours each way to see a girl about a wedding.  Some may feel this would be too great a burden and wonder why a phone call wouldn’t suffice, especially for someone who is not a blood relation.  Those people probably don’t have a Tribe.  We made a commitment to one another beneath a full moon in February 1994, and that contract maintains our connectedness regardless of time and distance.  We are bound by more than love.

While I chose not to have children of my own, I have been blessed to have several extraordinary children in my life.  They are the daughters and sons of members of my Tribe, and I am referred to, by some, as their faery goddess mother.  My eldest goddess baby is currently a music education major in college and is now busy planning her wedding, to be held at the Winter Solstice this year.  Before she was born, I dubbed her Starlet… and I would sing to her through the mystical cocoon of her mother’s belly.  The chant that I found most soothing, at that time, went like this:  “The river is flowing, flowing and growing.  The river is flowing out to the sea.  Mother, carry me – your child I will always be.  Mother, carry me out to the sea.”  Think about it… she was encased in a saline ocean of her mother’s love and care… a sacred being on her way into the light of the world that would be made more sacred with her arrival.  This weekend, I wondered aloud what that tune might sound like on the cello, her instrument of passion and choice.  My heart did a little dance when she dashed upstairs to grab her cello and a blank page.  I sang to her that old familiar tune, and her pitch-perfect ear deciphered the language of the voice into the music of soulful strings. (I recorded the outcome, and you can hear it here:  https://youtu.be/N4Mpa1YLfko )

Unfortunately, due to geography I had to miss much of our Starlet’s growth and becoming.  She and her mom moved to be near her grandparents when she was about four years old.  I was sad to lose them from my weekly life, but I am grateful that they made that move.  She was blessed to have her grandparents in her daily life until they each departed the living realm within recent years.  I can count the times I got to see her in person on my fingers, over those years… but there’s a certain kind of magick wrapped around this sacred Tribe of mine, and somehow it is woven around our ‘legacy’, as well.  Our Tribe first met at the end of 1993, and we were committed to meeting weekly.  Each week we were devoted to mutual spiritual growth and diving deep into the mysteries of womanhood and our own becoming.  Pregnancy never really interested me, but I have to say that I learned quite a lot during the ‘baby years’ of our connectedness.  Here’s my favorite and most quoted tip for nursing mothers:  When you are painfully engorged with breast milk, you can place cabbage leaves in your bra, and find relief as the milk recedes.  Is that not amazing?!

For each of these life altering events, we would celebrate with a rite of passage… a blessing before the birth to protect mother and child, to grant gentle passage from the womb and into the light, and a special blessing of each child as s/he reached a year of age.  After a while, my beloved Tribe scattered to the winds, due to marriage or career opportunities.  None have managed to find what we had before.  But no matter how much time passes between meeting – together or one-on-one – that magick remains deeply intact.  When we meet, it is as if no time has passed at all, even though many have been gone a decade or two.  I sometimes wonder if our souls have continued to meet weekly in a sacred circle in another realm.  That would certainly explain how time has managed to stand still.  Of course, to see our babies today… well, you’d know that time hasn’t stood still at all.  They are ALL so remarkable, amazing, talented, brilliant, compassionate, caring, and kind.  I always knew they would be special, being born from my most sacred personal goddesses, but seriously… it can’t be that I am just biased… I know they are spectacular beings of light.

Last weekend, we explored a whole new rite of passage, as far as our ‘legacy’ is concerned…  a handfasting (a traditional Celtic ceremony of union from which we gained the term, tying the knot).  How is it possible that one of our babies is even old enough to be getting married?  Sheesh!  How time has flown.  Our sweet girl met her beloved in high school.  She was a senior when he was a junior.  Since I am so far away, I have only met him once.  It was at the memorial service for her grandmother a few years ago, that I first learned that she was smitten.  I won’t lie.  It totally tickled me that she introduced me to him as her faery goddess mother.  Of all of the titles I have held in my lifetime, this is certainly one of my favorites.  I have to admit that I am astonished that she could feel such a bond with me when I have been so far away for most of her life… even if I have loved her every single day of her existence.  Technically, since I loved her Momma before she was conceived, I have loved her even longer than that.  Even more amazing, and a great honor to me was that she wanted me to perform her handfasting  and ring ceremony… this is actually a ritual that falls just short of a wedding, as when we gather, they will already have been wed.

You see, this young man who has stolen Starlet’s heart was raised Mormon.  In order to move forward into a future with him, she has chosen to convert.  On one hand, it feels impossible to relate to this decision, as I cannot fathom making the faith of another my own.  On the other hand, I can recall that moment in 1992, when I experienced energy rising through the soles of my feet and into my heart, and was offered an introduction to how uplifting and soul-filling it can be to find a spiritual path that fits my own deep truth.  What I know for sure is that my truth will not be the same as your truth… and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Starlet was raised to be a free-thinker, like her Unitarian Mom.  When I asked her if the study involved to be adopted into this religion made her feel anything that might be considered a spiritual experience her reply was affirmative.  Coupled with the fact that this young man seems worthy of her love and devotion, as they’ve had the two years of his distant mission trip to get to know each other through verbal and written communication alone, this goddess mother feels pretty good about her choice.  In other words, due to a geographical divide, chemistry and hormones have not been able to get in the way of really getting to know one another.  This feels like a lovely alternative to the instant gratification culture to which we’ve all become accustomed.

Since only Mormons can attend the actual wedding ceremony of this young couple, Starlet’s family and friends will be invited to attend the ring ceremony on the day that follows their union.  I learned a great deal about this unfamiliar faith as we discussed creating an outline for this joyous event.  Together, we created a general plan for the ceremony, and when her beloved is home from his mission, they will help me to fill in explanations of symbolism that might be different from our own customs.

I’ve begun building the words that will convey the deep meaning and purpose of our Solstice gathering.  My ultimate hope is that my darling goddess daughter and her new husband will feel unconditionally loved and supported by their new families and the community that surrounds them.  A difference of religion should not be a factor that divides a community.  If love is at the core, it can only be made stronger by the rich diversity and mutual respect for the choices we have each made for ourselves.

If I can manage to do right by these two young darlings, I may just find further illumination on my own path forward.  Perhaps I am not becoming an end of life doula, but a transition doula.  If needed, I may accompany souls from one path to another… from single to married, from old life to new life, from endings to beginnings, from loathing to loving… from healing to thriving…  the way is only limited by the boundaries of the mind.  May we all be unlimited!

My Post (11)

Your Light ~ Required

On a normal day devoted to writing, I typically sit down at the keyboard, empty my mind and ask for inspiration to come.  Words flow from my fingertips without a conscious direction… my writing is a mystery that is revealed to me as it comes.  It reminds me of the metaphor my soul-daughter has used for my current path:  She says that I am on a long, dark highway and I can only see what is illuminated by my headlights.  The road is safe, and my GPS is leading me to where I need to be, and my car is safe with a full tank of gas.  All that is required is to keep driving forward, pay attention to what is being revealed as I go, and know that I will be informed when it is time to stop driving.

On these days that I am focused on writing, I am often reaching into my past for a story to tell, through which some level of insight or self-healing may be revealed.  Today is different.  Today, I am writing about something from my future, and I’d like to engage your support.  I promise that it will not cost you more than a moment of thought, and what I know for sure is that the light produced by your mindful awareness will add to the light of mine, and together… we may just permeate the darkness descending upon a sacred soul.  Now, the soul of whom I write is specific, but together – our reach may be more broad.  Each of us may be just a drop of quenching rain, but together we can be a monsoon of healing light, a tsunami of love.  The holy one of whom I write is the beloved sister of a dear friend.  In this year of transformation, she has selflessly offered her gifts to me, as she does to anyone in need, asking for nothing more than the pleasure of my company in return.  She, herself, is a warrior of overcoming – and she has reached to me with a request to grab my bow, and lead this Tribe of loved ones through a circle of healing.  The invading predator is fierce – ALS invades the body and robs it of its strength to move, and eventually… to breathe.  You see… this is why I need you today, and your stunning, radiant inner light.  My love is great and enveloping, but OUR love?  It is all consuming… a cloak of comfort on a cold dark night.  Please take my hand and share your light… I can see it growing brighter as you approach, and it is sweetness to behold – love made manifest.  Further, I hope you would not consider it greedy to ask that you share this post with others.  Imagine the power of our light when it is passed from one sacred soul to another!  We are each torchbearers… passing our light from one to another, until the whole world is aglow with a radiance more powerful than the sun.

For the purposes of our focused connection, I am going to refer to our sacred vessel as Juno.  For clarity, if you are reading this after the date of this gathering to which you are contributing… know that time is not linear, and your light will still make a difference.  Also understand that if you are in need of healing light, you may pull it from this cosmic gathering, and when you offer your own healing energy, you are never depleted, for this is a divine force that moves through you… you cannot help but receive through the giving.

Great Spirit, Mother / Father God, Universal Force of Creation, Powers that Be, Elements that surround us and flow through us, All That Is:  Allow this sacred circle of beautiful beings to become a combined vessel of your love, filling up and spilling forth with an abundance of healing light energy.  Allow the light of love to flow freely, without obstacle, and let it drip down the healers’ hands, washing away our sorrows, our fears, our hunger and thirst, our aches and pains, self-doubt and false limitations.  As we are made of celestial matter, we contain the healing power of a thousand suns, and the distant light of a billion stars is ever present in the combustive force that warms us from within.  Let this divine energy rise up through Earth’s core and crust, through saline ocean, and forest floor, through the soles of our feet, rising up through the roots that are our legs, lighting up our energetic being as it is filled – (red) root, (orange) sacral, (yellow) solar, and into our (green) hearts contained by strong and resilient trunks, and let this molten, healing light flow through arms to hands that are our branches, through (blue) throat, (purple) mind’s eye that sees what is not visible, and (white) crown through which we connect easily with all that is… rising up and out to deliver exactly what is required, be it for the good of all.  Amen, So Be It, Blessed Be.

If it is difficult to connect with the soul of someone you do not yet know, think of someone you do know who has made you feel completely loved.  Hold that beloved being in your heart and radiate and reflect that love back to her or him.  As you feel that radiance shared between the two of you, allow that light to expand to encapsulate others in your circle – family and friends for whom you feel a sense of affection.  Now, expand that light even further, beyond those you know well and out to acquaintances, and then to people you don’t know in your community, in your city, in your state.  Let your light of loving compassion grow and spread beyond the boundaries of country, continent, planet.  Let your love reach and grow into the darkness of space, surrounding the galaxy, and then every galaxy – known and unknown.  Know that your light is expansive and boundless. You are one with the universe and all that is.

Now, bring your focus back into your center.  Visualize this place that is in a realm that is not limited by what we know in this world.  In this place, there is plenty of room for all of us to gather.  We are each standing in our own strength, prepared to share it freely with one another.  If you once felt alone in this space, feel the arrival of other light beings, as the palms of your hands are filled with the palms of two others.  As each of us arrive in this sacred circle, a pale blue light radiates from each being, and as hands are linked, the light begins to pulsate and grow stronger as it flows gently in a clockwise motion, from heart to heart and hand to hand.  As the circle is made complete, you look before you and see Juno seated at the center, enveloped in the pale blue light of your loving presence.  Let Juno be represented by that being who has made you feel most loved and cherished, and let that love be reflected back to her.  She is surrounded by Universal light delivered through sacred souls from all over the planet.  You may be holding hands with someone from America, from Canada or Ireland, from India or from Africa… your light is mingling with the light of people from countries whose names have never crossed your lips.  We are all one, and there are no barriers here.  We are all here for one purpose… to bring divine healing light to the soul of another, in whatever form is needed.  When we offer our healing energy, Reiki, Theta, our thoughts and prayers, it must be unattached to outcome, for we cannot know the destined journey of one’s soul.  We can only trust that exactly what is needed to bring healing to that sacred soul, in any form, will be delivered by our care.

As the light surrounding Juno grows and pulsates, it is like a magnet that is pulling from her body any residue of past harm, be it betrayal, fear-based thought, denial of success or personal worthiness, food-born or environmental distress or illness.  As all remnants of negativity and dis-ease (mentioned and unnamed) are removed from her body, her energetic being, her DNA, and her beautiful soul, all areas of exit are filled and sealed with golden light.  The pale blue light, which has grown in strength as each new soul enters the circle, becomes a beautiful emerald green.  As Juno has been emptied of what no longer serves her, she has become an open vessel to receive the light that we offer, as well as the sparkly white light of creation that flows from above.  We are grateful witness to the arrival of this light, and are awed by the beauty that illuminates Juno’s own beauty as she is filled with this light that is like the golden light from a holiday sparkler, or a downpour of luminous glitter.  This light fills every cell of her body with divine healing energy, as it delivers strength and fortitude for the road ahead.  Juno is receiving through her open heart, the wisdom of the universe, the strength of earthly ancient mountains, the air to fill her lungs and speak her truth, the fire to move her muscles and accomplish every task she seeks to fulfill, the water to wash her spirit clean of fear, anger, bitterness, and regret.  Juno is filled with divine light and soothed by the love that surrounds her.  Whatever is required for her peace, comfort, and transformation in the form that her soul has chosen will be provided with grace and ease.  She is one with all of us and we are all one with the Universe.  Together we transcend the limitations beholden to the confines of the human body, through the power of the mind, which is greater than our understanding.  Once again, we place our trust within this truth… that assistance is given to those who reach.  Together we reach beyond what we can see, feel, understand, and know that this mystery is received and freely given through the love that resides within each of us.

Finally, in this sacred place where we have gathered, we raise our hands toward Juno, and send golden light energy from heart to palm and into her being, so that she may carry the love of this circle within her through all of her days upon the earth and into the mystery of what comes next.  And when you feel that you have given what she needs, place your hands upon your own heart, and receive that same energy that flows through you and each sacred being within this circle.  Allow your own body and energetic being to be filled with this Universal Light Energy.  Feel the light and love of this vast community surround you and enter your heart.  Know that you carry this love within you, and that it seeps through every pore with a radiant light that brings healing to old wounds, and attracts an abundance of goodness to your life.

When you are ready to return to the place where you are sitting, reading these words that have somehow come through my fingertips and onto this page, I hope that you hold onto my gratitude and my love for the light that you have offered, and for the healing it has provided.  You are loved and valued beyond your previous imagining.  Hold onto that and let it grow in your awareness.  Your light will illuminate your path, and beauty surrounds you, every step of the way.

Thank you!  I love you!  It is done!

PS:  If you can please like and share this post, it will multiply the intensity of our combined healing light.  As I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about ‘Juno’, I could feel a heaviness and shortness of breath that was overwhelming.  I could feel the fear of those who suffer, and the sorrow of those who would give anything to be able to help.  I was strengthened by the thought of touching your heart, that you might touch the heart of another, and so on.  You can help.  We can help.  Somehow, in a place beyond our understanding… we shall rise…  warriors – all!

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The Enlightened Heart

One thing that has been a delightful surprise and enormous blessing about this journey of discovery through end of life studies, is the willingness and courage displayed by others who have been moved to share their own stories of loss.  Of course, the required reading provides stories from the perspective of hospice doctors, nurses, and palliative care providers… but the truth that is shared by a friend, of their own experience as a witness to a loved one’s departure is far more meaningful to me.  These sacred moments of vulnerability and raw emotion are so deeply personal that I consider it a great honor and privilege to be given the opportunity to hold space and bear witness, not to the dying in these cases, but to those who remain.  I feel as if I am being offered a gift from a friend who shares their experience, as I am offered a reflection of grace that might just be a guide for me when my darkness comes.  At the end of our days upon the earth – the path onward splits, as the survivor has no choice but to step forward in a new direction, as they create their new normal.  What a privilege to see how sorrow leads to strength and strength leads to becoming in the heart of a friend surviving the loss of a love.  The one who has died has given up all of their earthly belongings, and those who love them have lost the physical presence of someone dear.  These moments are woven into the tapestry of our individual mythology, and they are important tales of our own evolution.  I am honored to hold these sacred moments in the light of truth and with the warmth of love.

I just finished reading the fourth and final book of required reading for this course, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.  If you are interested in reading it and enjoy audiobooks, I found it on youtube.  I find that spoken words will allow pieces that feel important to me to rise up, and then I can find them in the book and deepen my focus where I have been drawn.  Within the six and a half hours of listening, I found my draw at the halfway point… just over three hours in.  Interestingly, the first three hours were on the topic of living, while the last three hours were on dying, death and rebirth.  These pages are filled with pathways to compassion.  They offer instruction through meditation – which kind of speaks my language.

I remember the first time I tried to meditate.  It was 1992, and I was taking a class on earth based spirituality.  One of my teachers had a passion for meditation and offered a Saturday morning practice.  I remember sitting on the floor of a darkened room, receiving soothing guidance with eyes closed.  When we were instructed to open our eyes at the end, I was simply frustrated.  We were going around the room, each person sharing what they had visualized on their journey within… and let me tell you these visions were magickal.  As for myself, however, I felt that I had failed to go anywhere… and simply could not push the mundane out of my mind.  My teacher asked me what I had seen, and the truth was that I was balancing my checkbook in my mind.  Ugh… nothing spiritual about that.  He then asked me to close my eyes now, and prompted me to say aloud what I could see.  I can’t actually remember the results of that exercise, but I could see that there was potential if I could just get out of my own way.  My teacher died in 1996, just ten days after his 32nd birthday.  A couple of days before his passing I sat at his bedside, held his hand, and sang to him the healing chant that ultimately led me to his circle (I wrote about that in my blogpost:  A Spiritual Path Less Taken.)  His was the first memorial service that I planned and led, a gift to his grieving beloved.  He was pagan and his surviving partner was Catholic, so it was a service that was beautiful, loving, and diverse.  He loved to sing (though he was tone deaf), and had been a member of a pagan choir called Amulet, which had recorded an album of earth based / goddess centered chants (which you can find on cdbaby).  This group was the healing salve between the words of sorrow and celebration throughout the service.  He taught me early on that raising our voices in song is a powerful way to connect with the spirit of all that is.  I never leave home without a song in my heart, thanks to him.

It was after he was gone that my Tribe dedicated a year to meditation.  Each week we gathered and we rotated responsibility for sharing a meditation with the group.  At this point in time, our lack of experience led us to share meditations written by others.  It was a year well-spent, because at some point I did finally get out of my way and learned to travel.  I offer gratitude for this accomplishment to my friend and teacher, who surely helped guide me there through his energetic form.  In April of this year, my soul-daughter wanted to practice her mediumship skills and engaged my support.  Before she arrived, I wrote down the names of those I have loved and lost, without attachment.  It was this friend who came through.  I knew it almost immediately.  Her first words were that this guy isn’t shy, but this is the first time he has communicated with a medium.  He said he was not related, but a friend.  His energy was smooth and calming, she said.  She compared it to being on a date with him… he said, “You know, I’ve never done anything like this before…”  His energy was smooth and calming, welcoming and kind, charming, strong and firm.  He described to her how he saw the world in a positive way – like everything was beautiful.  I told her that he literally wore rose colored glasses.  Ha!  She uses metaphor when she reads, as her guides show her visuals that she can interpret.  He showed her an obnoxious yellow VW bug to describe his personality… it would be quirky, bright, stand out and something you wouldn’t see every day.  He showed her that his energy was quirky, gentle, delicate, calm, but with a big personality at the same time.  He was not calm, but his energy was.  He made a joke with her, by dusting off an old book and dusting off his shoulders, reflecting that it had been a long time since he and I had connected this way.  She said that he used symbolism to communicate with her, with a lot of imagery, in a very poetic way.  This is how meditation flows, so this makes perfect sense to me.  I could go on and on about what I learned from my friend on the other side of the veil, but that would take more time than you have interest.  She felt as if he was teaching her.  He did so for exactly one hour and eleven minutes – 1:11.  Perhaps I will transcribe his wit and wisdom to share one day.  Until then, he informs me that we will continue to connect through nature… and meditation.  As if affirming my acknowledgement, I just looked out the window to see a single feather floating downward from the oak that stands sentinel in my front yard.

The art of compassion and how to serve is the foundation of the Buddhist structure shared within the pages of this book… a temple of healing with the power of the mind.  We are reminded to touch the suffering of another with love, rather than fear.  Fear leads to pity, while love leads to compassion.  In order to activate and mentally direct this compassion we may consider the following:

Close your eyes and take a deep cleansing breath.  Visualize a green light coming through your breath and into your heart, where it brightens and expands with each rise and fall of your chest.  As this light shines more brightly, it illuminates the wise ones who surround you.  You may see them and name them as your own spiritual path allows… be they ascended masters, angels, guides, God, Universal Energy, Spirit, ancestors, etc.  Ask for their guidance to allow your words, thoughts, and actions only to benefit and bring happiness to others… to support their transformation from suffering to peace.  Direct the compassion you possess, by positive action and spiritual practice, to the dedication of the welfare and enlightenment of all beings.  Know that your own attainment of these goals will be for the benefit of all.  And with this breath of compassion and enlightenment – we breathe in the sorrow and suffering of others, and we breathe out kindness.  We breathe in the panic and fear that surrounds us, and we breathe out happiness.  The black smoke of suffering is replaced with the green light of the enlightened heart.  The art of Tonglen is to transmute pain and suffering by giving and receiving.  I receive your suffering, and give you my happiness.  I receive your grief, and I give you my peace of mind.  All of this occurs through the breath.  This is a simplified explanation of the practice that is detailed in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.  I feel that a daily practice will be developed from these pages, and I hope that my heart light may be a comfort to you when you are in need.

Like my teacher before me, I have gone on too long.  Know that you are loved, and that I am grateful to have you walking beside me.

In the spirit of connectedness, I am sharing below a few links: to my first professionally recorded meditation to release your inner warrior by letting go of the false burdens we carry; to the recordings made by the choir to which I refer above; and the contact page for my soul-daughter, should you be interested in experiencing her divine gift, first hand.

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/melissabaker1

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/amuletpaganchoir

https://www.facebook.com/Jillianthemedium

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