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“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” –Christopher ReeveI&Cr  

I met Christie in 2003, the same year I was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis. Our interracial gospel choir was performing at an educational venue in New Orleans, when after the singing we broke up into small groups with the audience and spoke about racial issues and how they affected our lives. Christie was a delicate beauty as she spoke about her parents having been activists during the civil rights movement during the 60s. She felt particularly drawn to the mission of our choir.

Each person in the breakout session added more facets to a subject wrought with passion and heart breaks, bringing a sense of solidarity and mission. Christie admitted she liked to sing and would love to be a part of the choir, but she obviously held back. When I encouraged her, she disclosed that she had been in treatment for ovarian cancer for quite some time. This is a cancer that remains hidden and undetectable until it’s too late, the elusive killer. It seemed almost unimaginable that this vibrant, passionate young woman with her life in front of her could be undergoing an unseen struggle just to stay alive.

Christie clearly wanted to join the choir and when I told her of my recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, it seemed like more of a possibility to her. It was decided that she would come to rehearsal one Thursday evening at Loyola University to check out the possibility. Christie was met with great enthusiasm and welcomed into our impassioned singing group with a mission.

One of our CDs is dedicated to Christie who sang with us and lost her battle a couple years later. When Christie came to my farm to prepare for our performance at the St. Louis Cathedral, she acknowledged that she had been at my farm before. I didn’t consciously recognize her, but she and her boyfriend purchased cabinets from me a few years before. There was much Christie and I shared that evening in our discussion group that would unfold as crescendos and decrescendos during our truncated lives; truncated in quantity, perhaps, but long in quality.

Christie and I shared a passion for music, social justice and we were BOTH confronting catastrophic illness. When embarking on a journey involving life-threatening illness, we face our greatest fear, that of our mortality. I don’t know if anybody is ever ready for this ordeal, but it offers a particular challenge this early in life. One no longer has the luxury of being immobilized by the fear; illness requires that one’s values are assessed, which then requires action. Healing modalities will need to be strategized along with loved one’s input. By facing this Call, courage is the likely end product.

The connection between Christie and myself was instantaneous, like looking into a mirror. I felt her fragility and was able to reassure her that she could do it; she could join our choir and sing in solidarity. Christie was a fellow heroine.

Illness happens for many reasons in one’s life. It can be a catalyst to move forward, if one has been holding back. There can be agreements made on a soul level to move the individual and the soul family forward in their development. Making assumptions based on one’s own limited perspective as to why a person is ill can be very reductive for the person experiencing the illness or injury.

For people who knew Christie, she changed people’s lives for the better. The world is a better place because she and her family are/were in it. She is no longer in her body, but she still is. Almost 10 years later, she still lives in my heart, and for that I wanted to Honor her.

“The mind-body connection is a strong one, but progressive multiple sclerosis can be a buzz saw intent on breaking that bond.”– Marc Stecker

 

food_piece_of_cake-0262Geez Louise, working for me is not for the faint of heart; especially around the changing of the seasons. If you are thinking of answering an ad and have some trepidation, listen to it. I have some helpers who had been with me the whole seven years I have been in Crestone. Maybe they deserve a medal. If you make it through the first three hours, it is not uncommon to be with me for multiple years. How they do it, I’m not sure. Before the illness, I could not have done it. And some of them are under thirty!

This month’s Care Circle, the meeting with my care team, will be the largest so far. I hope my kiva room can accommodate all the seating. I must be doing something right, drawing such a large crowd. And these people are the most amazing individuals I have ever known. They are completely committed to doing whatever it takes to keep me in my body. I literally owe my life to them, on a minute to minute basis. I have almost always had a lot of love in my life, but this is beyond what I ever imagined. In my early life there was a lack of nurturance to which I attribute the need for this extreme curriculum. There is a T-shirt that reads, “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Well, it’s never too late to bring a wounded infancy to wholeness. I have made the connection between a profound lack of healthy mothering during childhood and a progressive form of multiple sclerosis in prior blog entries. I know of six anecdotal cases reflecting this theory, my own being one. This curriculum can offer hope for the deepest healing; bringing hope to a world in need is a worthy endeavor.

Yesterday, the dreaded occurrence happened: an injury. Fortunately, this is rare, but it is more likely to happen when training new people and they don’t understand my vulnerabilities. During a transfer, the plate and nine screws that held my femur together was torn. Don’t ask. Fortunately, my physical therapist was here and offered much reassurance. That was timely, because I had turned white as a sheet and was ready to pass out. See Shattered, the first chapter in my book, also in my blog if you don’t have a book. This describes my original femur accident from 2007.

I think what happened was, the emotional trauma from the original accident surfaced that had not been cleared. During the night, if I closed my eyes to let go into sleep, I would have an anxiety spike. I instantly made this connection to dying fears. Who gets to be this aware? And, of course, I experienced this in what appears to be slow-motion, so I feel everything, in a big way.

Without an injury, I could live for months, maybe years. The injury is the unknown variable. Perhaps it is the mysterious work of the sacred initiator waiting to midwife me into the next consciousness. That does not instill comfort to this mortal humanoid.

Okay, if I have sufficiently convinced you that working for me is difficult, now imagine being in my place. That would be a quick visit, because living with my circumstances is almost unimaginable to most people, even people with life-threatening illnesses or milder forms of MS. Most of the time it is not so difficult, living my ordeal, observing life from my perspective. It is really a rich, full life.

I know I am living parallel existences. My dreams are as real and as unreal as my waking life feels at times. Some Knowers say that our dreams are more real than this physical reality. I believe that, because I know this is merely a costume for the movie that is my life with this curriculum. Now I get to clear the trauma surrounding my femur injury, otherwise, it will continue postmortem. I have read about people having chronic body issues with memories of being mortally wounded in a parallel existence, or past life if you prefer a linear perspective. Since I sit nineteen hours a day, I have the time and opportunity to release the trauma. So release I will.

Although, my ego would never have chosen these circumstances, I recognize the wisdom in the selection on a soul level. I know that in a blink of an eye, this experience will be over. In the meantime, I prefer to spend my time increasing my consciousness and in service to others. Each moment is another opportunity toward this end, however, gluten or non-gluten, it is not a piece of cake.