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After twenty-five years of hurricane preparation and hearing that someday, if a hurricane hit New Orleans “just so,” the water from Lake Pontchartrain would overtake the levees, on August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded the city of New Orleans. Since we were living on our horse farm fifty minutes north of New Orleans, our farm was a refuge for friends evacuating the city and lakefront area during hurricane season. On August 22, our dearest friends Mark and Diana, who lived within ten blocks of the lake, arrived with cases of spring water, wine, assorted batteries, a windup radio, and food from the freezer that needed to be used. They also brought local family members including a sister, brother-in-law, and mother. We lost power during the hurricane, so we took turns winding the radio–-if you wound it sixty times you got two minutes of radio time. At the time, we had no clue about the level of devastation and suffering that was happening fifty miles away.

One of our friends drove her horse to us from a more vulnerable stable in New Orleans before the contraflow of traffic reversed and she was barely able to get back to evacuate with her family. We knew we had only a day or two to secure a generator to run the water pump or the horses would have no water. As in keeping with hurricane preparedness, all the troughs in the fields had been filled prior to the storm. Because we had so much food and a gas stove, we were in business. We had to cook everything in everybody’s freezers which we did over the next few days. Our deep freezer then served as a refrigerator for a few weeks with the power off.

The contrast with what the people in New Orleans were experiencing was stark. Before the storm hit, men nailed heavy plywood over the windows. We didn’t have enough plywood for all the windows so when the eye was overhead and there was a lull in the heavy wind gusts, they ran outside and switched them to the other side. From our house we saw many fences down and most of the large pine trees on our property and the adjacent properties were down as well.

Halfway through the storm, David ran up to the barn to check the horses. The barn was solid and the horses were freaked out, but they were safe. On the following day, the sun came out and the women went to the salt water swimming pool to bathe. There was a mixture of summer camp excitement, anticipatory dread and a lot of fear of the unknown. We were unable to leave the driveway since all of the telephone poles and many of the pine trees were blocking it. We had no idea about the level of devastation of the infrastructure and that it would take five weeks and crews from all over the United States to restore things. Our next-door neighbor, who had a good deal of heavy machinery, began working with our male neighbors to move the trees. Eventually, David and I were able to leave and drive north on a mission to find a generator. Most places were sold out of generators, batteries, fuel cans and gas. I called ahead to a Home Depot in Baton Rouge and secured a generator. David, Mark, Diana and I moved into our pop-up camper so we could use the air-conditioner. Louisiana heat is unbearable without air conditioning, especially if you have heat intolerance due to MS. At the time, I was walking with a walker and  able to maneuver through the yard and into the camper. Diana’s eigh-five-year-old mother was raking debris, toting water from the pond to the toilets. After a catastrophe of this proportion, we did what was needed and did it happily.

By the third day, Mark wanted to check on his home near the lakefront. They had to climb over large pine trees to get there and amazingly there was little damage to the house despite numerous fallen trees on their lot. By the following week, we would begin to see signs posted with references to firearms, which reflected threats of violence due to looting. If Louisiana ever felt like a banana republic, it did after Katrina.

There was another shift that we began to perceive two weeks after Hurricane Katrina. It was clear that the government was not going to help, and people began organizing to help one another. Neighbors were going door to door and listening stories of people trapped in their homes without staples. There was a cohesion that was developing out of necessity. My brother arrived from Pennsylvania with supplies to help out. He and I went to the Red Cross to volunteer our resources. Dale was a trained EMT and began working at shelters.

We began hearing inspirational stories of people coming together in service to others. After a few days we realized that text messages could get through and my psychotherapy group began to convene. One member mentioned that Katrina means “to purify.” We began to realize that after the initial shock and devastation, the state of Louisiana was going through purification. Crews were arriving at our door to be of service. There was the quality of open hearted-ness in the people that was palpable. When telephone service was restored, we received calls from all around the United States asking us what we needed. The shift toward co-creation for the survival of the collective was stimulated that August of 2005 and, due to the love of New Orleans, the evolution of altruism spread throughout the world. For the people who lost loved ones, the little picture is heartbreaking. For those who can see the bigger picture perspective, Tibetan nun and prolific teacher Pema Chodrun’s quote once again is operant: ““Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”

I wanted to offer an addendum to my last blog entry, Harald and Bonnie…

In the lyrics that Bonnie Raitt sang, I will fight to make a stand, I think it is important to note that war terminology is not really what I am comfortable with when speaking about the illness curriculum. For many years, in spite of the semantics involved, I did wage a war of sorts. And with every battle I had to retreat and regroup many times. If my theory is correct, and I am learning to let go of willfulness and embrace Faith, the teaching has been very fruitful.

Marianne Williamson wrote a beautiful quote regarding this in her book Returning to Love: “Attacking a disease is not a cure. Attacking a disease only makes it yell louder. Healing comes from entering into a conversation with our illnesses, seeking to understand what it’s trying to tell us.”

I like to bring this philosophy to all energies that seem to be in conflict with the Source whether they be illnesses, addiction, or even a difference of opinion. Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, has a wonderful body of work to help bring harmony and mutuality to the differences. He is the recipient of the Bridge of Peace award.

I happen to listen to Bonnie Raitt this morning. Here are some of the lyrics:

“That was then and this is now.
Found my way back here somehow.
Take me down.
You can hold me down
But you can’t hold what’s within me.

Someone other than who I am
I will fight to make my stand.
Cause what is livin’ if I can’t live free.
What is freedom if I can’t be me.

Pull me around.
Push me to the limit.
Maybe I may bend. But  I will not be broken.”

Returning to Colorado was not the easiest thing to do, but it was the Right thing to do. Being here in the high desert with extreme heat so close to the equator and with forest fires nearby, it is clearly the road less traveled. And if you experience the town I live in you would understand the esoteric nature of my decision. By definition esoteric means:

ESOTERIC. 1. a : designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone.

Sometimes even I don’t understand why I would choose to live alone in the wilderness. Although the town is isolated, I feel less isolated in Crestone than in Scranton or basically anywhere else right now. And certainly most of my family and friends don’t understand. I suspect that there are clues in the song:

This is the room where I do my physical therapy.

“I will fight to make my stand”– living in the desert at 8000 feet altitude is not easy, especially if you have compromised breathing capabilities. Just breathing can be a struggle certain days and add to that smoke from the forest fires affecting the air quality.

“What is living if I can’t live free what is is freedom if I can’ t be me?”  That about says it.

On the other hand, my internet connection just became DSL and my Skype conversations have much clearer reception. More grocery stores have opened with competitive prices for organic produce. And the most effective physical therapist I have ever met comes right to my house. Harald, originally from Germany, was referred to me after my femur fracture. “This is your lucky day,” the person referring him said as she gave me his number. I was still in the hospital in 2007, when I placed my call to him. I mentioned the femur, but I neglected to mention the neurological issues. When he first met me, Harald was pretty surprised when he came to understand the complications of my case.

Dancing with Harald in 2008

But that didn’t intimidate Harald. And for the next three years we worked together through my separation and divorce, through the ups and downs of this illness and our respective learning curves. We laughed together and we cried together as we weathered the celebrations and the heartbreaks.

Last month when I e-mailed Harald for an appointment and briefly described my double ankle fractures we experienced déjà vu. We hadn’t seen each other for two years and it had been a difficult two years for me. Harald devised the treatment plan in his mind and said, “okay, let’s stand,” and with some thought he added,  “but first, let me hold your hand” and our hearts got on board. Yes, give years after I originally moved to Crestone, I am still fighting to make a stand, Bonnie, but this time I am bringing my heart along.

I grew up as the only daughter among brothers. My relationship with my mother was very difficult and as a result I identified more with the masculine. I was a tomboy. I did play with dolls, but often my dolls were bad and I had to beat them. These patterns plus my astrological makeup did not make for much feminine energy in my early life. I was surprised in my twenties to hear that people experienced me as being very feminine. This observation baffled me. If I didn’t trust them, I wouldn’t have believed it. That was how out of my awareness this possibility was. There were many crossroads in this masculine/feminine split that taught me a lot. When I joined Yokefellow, after a few months the co-leaders of my group separated their practice. This unexpected event threw the whole community into all sorts of chaos and projections. We each had to choose–were we going to continue with a male therapist or the female therapist? What an evocative dilemma! For me, it was a no-brainer, as I would never feel safe enough to choose to stay with a woman. I was so uncomfortable with the feminine that I had denounced any feminine aspect of my personality. When I entered therapy, they had wisely instructed me to spend time with women. I don’t mean to say that I had no women in my life; I had many female friends. The quality of these friendships, however, was very limited. I had trouble staying present with my female friends and was known to disconnect, no one home, bye-bye. And accordingly, men were overly important in my life.

By being instructed to develop relationships with women, my most core pathological pattern was brought to the surface more than a year later. I had introduced a male and a female friend to each other. They had become very very close and as a result, I became triggered. I felt abandoned by the man. With the safety and support of my therapeutic community, I uncovered and navigated through my most unconscious issue regarding gender, which was really uncovering the triangulation I had experienced with my parents. Letting go of control was not my strength. In order to uncover deep unconscious issues one has to be able to let go of control. Somehow, with the set up and the support of these people, I gathered the courage to be out of control. By being willing to face this situation that left me heartbroken, I was able to begin to heal the greatest delusion that I had been living under. By working through the heartbreak regarding Steve, I was able to see that the true heartbreak was the loss of the feminine. This revealed a reversal that had run my life.  My lack of connection with my mother had created an excessive alliance with my father. And this pattern reverberating throughout my life. What a revelation.

Prior to this breakthrough I had given birth to my daughter. Hearing the words, “It’s a girl,” I remember being terrified by blatant inadequacy at the thought of raising a female child.  Severe postpartum depression during her first day of life reflected that. Fortunately, the depression was short-lived; and it receded as we bonded. The bonding we experience was clearly mutual. Fortunately, she was young when I completed this triangulation work. Thank goodness for that. How do people raise children without all the support I have been fortunate enough to find?

After integrating the teaching from the triangulation work at Yokefellow, my relationships with my women friends became much more significant. My relationships with men, on the other hand, became more normalized. I would like to introduce three of the champion women from those days who I have contact with on a daily basis:

Anna-I met Anna during my first group at Yokefellow. We shared a home group, we were the original “homies.”  When I arrived in my home group, it was an auspicious time, as Anna had just “come out from under the blanket.” It was like a timeline of where in the process Anna was with her courageous unveiling. Remember, this was not a typical group. We plunged deeply into the unconscious in order to liberate ourselves. Anna and I became fast friend. The trademark of our friendship was deep belly laughter. This lightheartedness allowed us to journey beyond our limitations. Probably because of the work she was able to do, Anna has been my greatest champion for me to find my Power and my voice. There have been times in both of our lives where we have been totally and unselfishly there for each other and continue to be so today.

Diana–when Diana and I first met in 1980, she was looking for a roommate situation. There was such a disparity between our personalities that the temperature was luke warm between us. With a nudge from Anna, Diana was encouraged to pursue the friendship with me. Eric had just moved out and Casey and I were a strong twosome. Diana moved into our apartment and it worked. After some time, Sid and Cranston edged in and we were a fivesome. Diana and Cranston played music until late in the night and Casey and I were known to boogie to “Salty Dog.” For a challenging time in our lives (but nothing like the future would bring) there was much lightness and harmony. Soon after being roommates, Diana moved to Rome and it wasn’t until many years later we reconnected. I introduced Diana and Cranston to Werner Ehrhardt’s work. Diana and I continued to bond, but there was subtle  friction not uncommon in friendships with women. Despite this, we continue to maintain a strong connection. When David and Mark entered our lives, I remember meeting at La Madeleine Restaurant and realizing that they were both from the Midwest. Diana commented, “oh great, we’re going to have to listen to them talk about tractors.” From that moment on we became a foursome that would create much synergy: socially, psychologically, and spiritually. We essentially became a family, a family that shared everything, birthdays, anniversaries, devastating diagnoses, celebrations and tragedies. As the bonding began to mature, I can remember being in a parking lot with Diana and arguing and crying with each other until we got to a resolution. This marked something that few relationships can weather. When Katrina was nearing New Orleans, since our horse farm was on high ground, Diane and Mark arrived with cases of water, food from the freezer, two cats, and all of Diana’s immediate family from New Orleans. That experience catapulted our connection to a totally different level. We were no longer friends, we were clearly soul family. With their influence, I joined the gospel choir and they encouraged me to open my throat, which set much in motion about letting my voice be heard. When I was diagnosed, and then Mark was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, we shared the ultimate heartbreak together. My last words to Mark in Austin, Texas, the day before he passed was, “I know I will be with you in my soul family group and we will be together.” He affirmed what I said and from where he sat, he knew. After his passing, Diana and I spoke on the phone nightly for hours for the next year. And when my illness progressed and I couldn’t use the telephone anymore, Diana and I Skyped almost daily. I have no friend who could reach down into our hearts the way she and I can and speak from pure Love. There is something about being in the trenches together that is the purifying.

Alexandria–My closest friend who I referred to as a soul twin is also my administrator for this blog and has had my back probably since the day we met. Alex was in pre-vet when I was interested in returning to school in premed. While studying science together we shared a fascination with obscure forms of parasites and learned the genus and the species as well as their unusual presentations. With a competitive edge, we tried to one up each other with the details of their gross presentations in human bodies. Our love of competition stimulated some pretty energetic racquetball games. We were evenly matched and played for hours. During the later years, I introduced Alex to breathwork.  I remember the specific telephone conversation about breathwork with her as I began shaking uncontrollably. It became clear to both of us that we would share this path as well. I was with Alex when the old woman originally made her appearance.  Alex is a brilliant and insightful woman who early on had a tendency to become out of balance with her intellect. While she was in graduate school she was confronted by one of her most challenging teachers-chronic fatigue syndrome. This was one challenge she could not think her way out of. Her transformation into her heart during these years was profound. And when my physical symptoms began to take hold, Alex understood illness from the inside out. Of course Alex suggested the tool of a WordPress blog when I expressed interest in writing. I just have to quote what she wrote to me  yesterday and I don’t need to say anymore: “I will always have your back Aliyah. Always and no matter what.” To Alex and to me, it is clear that our connection is way beyond our limited understanding of what is seen.

It is beyond my comprehension to imagine navigating this limited reality without the help and helpers I have found along the way. I am forever grateful to these women, to my children and to all the other teachers and students I have had in my life. And I know you know who you are.

I  went to a “Horses and Healing” Conference in San Antonio, Texas, nearly two decades ago. At the conference, I met a beautiful Latina woman who was instructed to saddle a Peruvian gelding with me. As we curried his body together we shared about our lives. She was talking about her family members, and she mentioned her co-madre when describing a dear relative in her family. When I looked confused she went on to explain this sacred relationship. She said that in her culture there was a special relationship between the two women who were grandparents to a particular child. It was a very sacred honor, to share this with each other.

My relationships with women have been very auspicious. When Sid and I connected, he had a young teenage daughter who was a huge gift in my life. She and her mother had been having a good deal of conflict in their relationship. As is the case with many teenage children, they often need to live with the parent that has not been raising them consistently. Erica was no exception.  I noticed that there was a deep fissure between Erica and her mother, and I saw how someone less aware could slip into drama if she were living unconsciously. Instead, I felt the call to be a bridge between the two. Having been a family therapist for many years, I felt it was important to strengthen the bond. In all fairness, I have to credit Erica for some of this. I felt extremely valued with her, so in none of my own insecurities surface. And in fairness, Linda was known to make this comment about me, “If you don’t like Ilene, there is something wrong with you.” This was a good crew with which to practice conscious relationships. Eventually, their bond strengthened once again, and I can happily say there was never any animosity between us.

A few years later, Jerilyn came into my life. Jerilyn was a beautiful woman who subsequently married Eric, Casey’s father. I remember the first moment I met her when I was working as a sales manager at a furniture store in New Orleans and they walked in to pick up Casey. It was Valentine’s day and Eric had brought a heart-shaped box of chocolates. The owner of the store walked in and said, “who is that beautiful couple?” I remember saying, “That is not a beautiful couple, that is Casey’s father.” I was not as magnanimous as Linda in the beginning. When this beautiful woman told my daughter that she couldn’t have chocolate until she had her lunch, I wanted to chime in, “Yes Casey, go right ahead and eat as many chocolates as you would like” in order to remind everybody who was the mother.  (Things you would say if your Shadow were in charge.)  When I got to know Jerilyn, we became very close and warm friends. When Sidney walked into the room and I was talking on the phone with Jerilyn, he would see me laughing hysterically, and I would say that I was talking to my ex-wife–in law.

Through Casey’s teenage years, Jerilyn provided a bridge for Casey and me. I remember feeling the similarity of dynamics with Erica, history repeating itself, and my gratitude for this relationship between women with integrity, for this kind of help and helpfulness. I knew that getting over one’s smallness to strengthen the child’s primary relationship was one of the most unselfish and important functions as a step-parent. The Spanish term co-madre came up for me in my mind. There is a beautiful dance that can happen between women when they are open and not feeling threatened.

It was many years before I would enter into a relationship where I was a literal co-madre. And again I feel much vulnerability in this sacred triangle. Being one of two biological grandmothers to River, and being as physically vulnerable as I am, I once again feel the need for partnership, for tag-team participation. I cannot get on the floor and play with him, nor can I even hold or console him. Once again I am reliant on another woman to help. And once again I’m dealing with a woman with sensitivity, courage and integrity. There is a beautiful dance that can happen between women when they are open and willing. And I have had the privilege to be a part of a Sacred tag-team of Co-Madres.

Another significant teaching from the Yokefellow (discussed in “The Genesis”) days involved openness. Having been involved in such an intimate community committed to integrity in thought, word and deed, I learned a lot about human nature in others and in myself. I learned how a lack of awareness and immaturity can become manifested in such a way that it erodes intimacy. There were many times in the community where people had interpersonal conflict. The conflict was dealt with honestly and honorably. After working through many interpersonal issues or being involved with other people working through issues, I began to release a critical mass of SHAME that was triggered in the conflict. I began to live a life with a profound level of transparency. Instead of feeling defensive when there was conflict, I just believed that we were all human with our lower ego selves. BUT, when given a choice we always seem to choose the high road. To me it is all about awareness. If people are willing to become more aware, the path is much less problematic–including the path of communication.

Believing in this deeper sense of goodness in people when given the choice has helped me tremendously with sticky interpersonal relationships both personally and professionally. And this belief in others, and especially in myself, would be challenged during the years that I played The Game. The Game was developed by Marty Groder, M.D., in a maximum security prison in Marion, Illinois. The goal as to make the inmates “sane” so that the psychiatrist could stay sane during the year he spent there avoiding Vietnam. My former teacher, Kenneth Windes, was an inmate who began to study under Dr. Groder’s tutelage. The Game was a highly confrontive model that provided a mirror in which to see one’s blockages to authenticity. Kenneth was deeply changed by the process due to his own willingness to change, and he brought that personal success to his mainstream psychotherapy practice.

Usually The Game ran from Friday night to Sunday evening. There were openings for someone to become mean-spirited or the opposite, manipulatively victimized, but usually if this happened the person would be confronted with this behavior. This approach could be seen as an aggressive format and it was common for someone to feel “attacked.” If and when this happened, that person feeling attacked could get triggered and react defensively and go on the reverse attack. This process was very useful in learning about your defense mechanisms and how they blocked your authenticity. It was quite destabilizing to the personality structure, and a healthy foundation to the personality was required in order to make it through Saturday. Those of us who did The Game regularly recognized the pattern and wondered who would return Saturday morning after the opening Friday night. Usually if you made it until Saturday afternoon, you would make it through Sunday.

There was a point on Saturday where there would be a kind of awakening and one would experience a greater sense of well-being in one’s life. There was a certain collective euphoria that happened once the blockages were seen for what they were and a tremendous sense of liberation was experienced both individually and collectively.

To give you an example of what was possible during this process, I will offer my experience of reconciling with my estranged husband during one of these weekends. I had been separated for over a year from my first husband. We were not seeing each other due to the level of conflict between us, yet we were also not willing to let go of the marriage. I had a hard time justifying a complete severance since we had a child together. Our relationship was deeply problematic and abusive. However, as with most complicated relationships, there was a lot to be learned and healed both separately and between us. I frequently felt victimized by him and would often give away my power. What I came to see during this process was that I really didn’t know which came first, my sense of powerlessness or his abuse. I began to see that I had complicity in the abuse. When I realized that I was part of the problem, I realized that I was also part of the solution. Going from acting like a powerless mouse who was being victimized, I found my voice in The Game by being surrounded by people who supported me in breaking this pattern. The phrase “ruthless support” was born at The Game. At one point I was standing on a chair speaking at the top of my lungs to Eric. During The Game, I would not allow him to not hear me. On his part, he was able to see what was in the way of him hearing me, and a sense of respecting me that had been missing for quite some time was reestablished.

After clearing away much of the pathological patterns in our relationship, the love we had originally connected with remained. We then did what people were later encouraged not to do, and we made a life decision based on the expanded consciousness provided by The Game–we reconciled our marriage. In retrospect, what I learned from this process about my own individual personality constructs would help me piece together the cause of recurring suffering in future relationships.  But my relationship with Eric devolved again after a few years.

What I clearly saw from this process was that had we been clearer, there was enough love to support the relationship. I would take this information to future relationships and it helped me not create the same pitfalls in quite the same way. The level of maturation I received from this process was immeasurable. There were still contraindications or negative patterns in place. For example, I had learned to comply in the face of extreme agression that never seemed to stop. I guess I found other ways to give my power away. It would be many years and this illness to enable me to see all the ways I render myself powerless. But I have to say that without the foundation that I’d derived from The Game, it might’ve taken me much longer to see these limitations, if I ever did.

In selecting future interventions, I chose gentler tools. The Game was a masculine construct borne out of maximum security prison. As I developed, I chose more feminine processes. Now seen through the lens of Nonviolent Communication, I see how violent The Game could be to the personality and to the heart. However, as with most tools I have used, I cannot reduce them simply to black or white. My first experience of conscious heart opening was the result of The Game. By seeing the blocks in the way of opening my heart and walking through the process of leaving the blocks, I learned how to consciously open my heart more effectively than any process I’ve experienced. It would be easy to demonize the teaching once I had come to the end of its usefulness in my life, but as with most things to throw the baby out with the bath water would be to sacrifice something important in myself.

As Maya Angelou says, “when you know better you do better. “ I feel very fortunate to have found so many helpers along the way to help me to KNOW BETTER. And that has helped me to go on and help other people know better.

Sometimes we effect our own karma from the false beliefs that we create in our mind. Guilt and shame can be huge burdens that chain us to oppressive patterns. I have had a hard time coming to terms with what I see are my limitations. I have been arrogant. I have been self-righteous. I have been a victim. I have perpetrated. So what. I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I have taken on too much responsibility for others to avoid feeling powerless. I have judged. I am human. Somehow feeling these oppressive patterns almost gives me a false sense of control. It is really good to be aware of this. And now it is time to let it all go. It’s time to get off the merry-go-round.

It is self forgiveness that I have the most difficulty with. Self empathy. That is the core of Marshall Rosenberg’s work, nonviolent communication or compassionate communication. That is what I was so drawn to in this work and still am. Softening to my self, my hurting heart. My heart cries oceans of tears to cleanse the spirit. It is time to have empathy for the self.

Who am I really? I am really very dear. I’m about the dearest person I know. And courageous. There is not much that I won’t face head on. And from such a powerless physical state, it requires so much more.

I just received an e-mail from my former roommate, the one who orginally begged me to go to therapy because she couldn’t hear my suffering anymore. She reads my blog and awaits each entry with enthusiasm. We haven’t seen each other in maybe thirty years. She took a risk and reached out to me. I could tell it wasn’t easy for her to do. I was feeling very overwhelmed with the move to Colorado and all of the orientation that needs to happen. Many of my old patterns are resurfacing which shouldn’t be a surprise. It is now in the trenches that the practice of self empathy needs to intensify.

So let us all, however many we are, even if it is just Lucetta and me, take a moment and reflect on who we truly are. In a previous spiritual school a bell would ring and we would remember ourselves. BONG.

It is interesting to think about the “vehicle” we have to work with at the beginning of this Journey. Some people have able bodies, some people have broken bodies, some are weakened, some seem to be totally impervious to abuse. Some people have memories of literally selecting the body-type while in a different state of consciousness. I realize that this is a very controversial statement, and my purpose is not to debate or present research (but I am available for sources if interested).

My particular prototype seemed to be very athletic and strong, however, with a closer look, there were many frailties that presented themselves early on. As a young child I used to have weird body anomalies that caused me quite a bit of frustration and discomfort. The bottoms of my feet used to burn so intensely that, as a child, I would put cold compresses on them when I was alone at night. The backs of my knees used to ache terribly and I thought this was just part of growing up, like growing pains. Throughout my life I had so many bruises on my legs that they looked like a connect the dots drawing. Fifty years ago, mattresses used to be made with buttons. My brother used to tease me because I would get bruises from the buttons on my hip bones, making references to the Princess and the Pea.

After my cousin died from leukemia at eight years old, I was taken in for a good deal of blood work. The only determination was that my blood clotted slowly. I wonder if early in life I had been placed on a pristine diet like I am now if it would’ve made a difference. In spite of the illness progressing, many symptoms have cleared after two years of strict adherence to the Paleolithic diet ala Dr. Terry Wahls, who is recovering from progressive multiple sclerosis. My coloring is better than it’s been throughout my life. I used to be so pale that couldn’t wait for the sunshine to get a suntan. The most significant symptom that has cleared is the drunken feeling I used to get when I ate a meal. The illness was relatively subtle at that time. That symptom is completely gone and only recurred once when I was out of the country and off my diet. I wonder about the gluten and dairy effects. But that was another time and this is now. And now I totally believe that this is happening for a reason and it is a good reason and it is for my greatest healing.

I used to blame myself for not having a perfectly able body. Actually, I blamed myself for every imperfection. I suspect that in a weird way I felt some sort of sense of control if I were AT FAULT. After all, if it was my fault perhaps I could fix it. Most of my life felt so out of control. But isn’t that the case for everyone? Anybody who thinks they have any control over anything is naïve. However, we can feel a sense of order if we begin to follow the energy. At least this has been my experience, whether or not everything happens the way I want it to. There is a certain sensation of “being in the flow” that feels better than being in control. There is a certain liberation when one hands over the steering wheel.

How paradoxical that with the dissolution of my body’s abilities I have learned a greater sense of Power from the inside out. The Goddess, She is good.

My thirty-year-old friend was rear-ended while driving on a highway in Hawaii. In a flash, her massage table hit the back of her head and that was it. That was the end of a life. There was no chance for reconciliation for her family, no clarification, there was no chance for forgiveness. To make lemonade out of lemons, I have had twenty years to create a life full of love and forgiveness. The talks we all wish we had, I am having. I wish I had a manual. Life does not come with a manual, nor does it progress toward the end with one.

I am making it up as I go along, and I hope I get it right. I have a very willing co-creator is to give me feedback along the way. The feedback I have been getting in the last give years is very loving. I am doing something very right.

Today, I discussed exit strategies with my daughter. It is not a conversation many people get to share, but my daughter and I are not ordinary people. When we went to Brazil together to see John of God, I saw this clearly for the first time. The village of Abadiania was changed by our being there. It was a village unlike any I have visited. It was in this world, but not at all of this world. If India was the throat chakra, Brazil was the crown chakra.

I knew when I left John of God that healing this illness was not likely, that perhaps there was another plan. I determined that by Jaoa’s demeanor when I left. While Casey had an impressive healing, mine was more in the psychological and spiritual realms (welcome to my world of healing.) In his village, we walked like pilgrims all clothed in white to see John of God. We stood in line and he gave his interpreter instructions for each visitor. Casey and I were to go for “psychic surgery” first thing in the morning. We entered the room where the healing happens and after a mysterious process were instructed to go back to our cassitas afterward. We slept for twenty hours straight.

The following morning Casey awoke with a swollen brow. She casually attributed it to the sunburn the day before, but it was…unusual. A sunburn has never yielded any swollen body parts before that I know of. Casey commented that the only time her forehead was swollen was after a head injury she incurred in her younger years. Casey had been partying and hit the pavement with her forehead. She had to go to the hospital and get evaluated, since they were worried a concussion was involved. It was a pretty big deal at the time.

After two days, the swelling cleared. The atmosphere in the village was ecstatic. We were watching people as the weeks went on letting go of their wheelchairs, walking canes, etc.  In our little cassita in such close quarters, Casey and I reworked our relationship probably for the firstst time by ourselves. The first couple days she was angry and accusatory and all for relatively good reasons. I was able to listen, take it in and acknowledge her perspective for the first time. By the fourth day Casey and I were laughing hysterically about the anecdotal circumstances during her childhood. Casey and I left our two-week adventure in Brazil with a clearer sense of who we were individually as well as in relationship with one another. As with most Faith healing, it is rarely cut and dry. Whether or not any physical healing took place in that unique Brazilian village, our relationship was much lighter and more joyful.

* keystone – a central cohesive source of support and stability; The central supporting element of a whole.

Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone* state. And I am three days away from leaving Pennsylvania, the state where I was born and raised. Yesterday was a very big day; I had two significant revelations. The first was that the urinary tract infection has recurred. I suspected that it would because my bladder is not emptying completely and there is an area that holds stagnation. When I asked the doctor if she thought the outcome would be different this time she responded, “I don’t know.” She increased the dosage of the antibiotic and my family felt strongly that I should comply, so I did. I hoped that it would work, but it didn’t. Actually, I was quite devastated for a few hours that it didn’t in spite of expecting that outcome. I see the urologist tomorrow and that will be my last medical appointment in Pennsylvania. Hopefully, he will have some suggestions for dealing with the stagnation.

The second revelation involved “the old woman archetype” that I’ve been working with for the last decade. It became clear that I have been trying to “complete this energy” or in some way bring it to an end, that it was somehow negative and needing to be exorcised. In my meditation last night, SHE was invited to join my circle of guides and family. A group of guides had pointed this out to me and it immediately felt like TRUTH. As soon as I initiated this shift, a whole layer of grief was released. When I think of how long I have been pushing this energy away, I am humbled at how blind one can be.

When the tick appeared, which I described in the blog entry Mama Mia, the desire to push this energy away escalated. When I accepted the energy of  “the old woman archetype” instead of rejecting it, the relief I experience was profound. I realize that this reframing and the subsequent integration of this mysterious crone energy was probably the keystone of my most challenging work. This was the key that supported the whole structure of my healing work.  As I spend time in meditation, I begin to honor the positive attributes of the old woman. What I realized is that she represents all of the aspects of myself that I had to grow into.  In order to wake up each day and live my life in this particular costume with this particular role I needed to integrate her courage. She represents the wisdom earned from a very demanding curriculum that sometimes makes me want to scream. If this were not the case, they wouldn’t call it  courage. She also represent the wounding of the Feminine for many generations in my family.

Interestingly enough, I wrote the previous paragraphs yesterday and today read an article about the Venus transit that happened yesterday, which represents the rise of the Feminine. It will be happening the entire month of June. I love the unexpected affirmations that come from Beyond.


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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

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