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These bonds with our children as we are their mothers in this lifetime – like Joni Mitchell sings,’permanent tattoos’ that transmit all kinds of emotional knowing and intuitions about their states-of-being into our bodies. Indelible. Love’s burning mark. – Kathryn Brady

When I was 26, I had an explosion of love like none I’d experienced in my life thus far – the birth of my first baby. It was in that moment, feeling that degree of love, that I realized just how much more vulnerable I was in life. I never really had very much to lose, that is, before now.

It’s a girl. I had always been a tomboy, didn’t really know much about girlie things. The men in my family and the men in my mother’s family had been the nurturers. My mother was the matriarch and wielded much power, impetuously. I think she missed the nurturance gene.

I never wore pink. Intuitively, I knew that Casey was a pink baby. She was completely uninterested in the trucks, farm animals, and backhoes I bought her. Casey loved to wear pink and always had a baby doll in her arms. Early on she made it clear that she was an Artist, drawing hearts and balloons on everything she created. As a conscientious mother, it was always a mad dash to provide blank pages on her two-sided easel so her creativity could flow endlessly. Entering her room, I never knew what creations I was going to encounter. A happy being, Casey woke up  every morning singing in her crib until I heard, “Ma!” and my day began.

She was around two years old when I became a single mom and it was Casey and me for the next few years. I rode her to pre-school on my bicycle down St. Charles Avenue and sometimes we rode the streetcar. When I took a few classes in premed, she watched me study, enjoyed my wonder, and was curious about the dead frog in the refrigerator that was my homework.

Casey was strong-willed and she came by it honestly, if you know me. She is a third-generation fiercely strong woman and, also, just the medicine my mother needed to open her heart. There was a special bond between them that I was not a part of, but for which I am deeply grateful.

At four, my creative daughter built a clay Madonna that her art teacher found exceptional. Unfortunately, it exploded in the kiln. Nevertheless, my daughter was to be an artist no matter what else she did with her life.

Any program, class, or experience I could find to enrich her life, we participated in. I loved to watch her blossom and blossom she did. Aside from being creative, Casey was very grounded and sure of herself. In preschool she asked for the telephone list of her Montessori school and began calling each student and telling them to bring a particular fruit to school the next day. Casey was planning a fruit salad! During these moments, I watched her in awe and happily became her assistant.

Another quality noticeable at a young age was Casey’s selfless generosity, an attribute she shared with my mother. When Casey was three, she grabbed a plastic bag and started putting her stuffed animals into it. When I asked her what she was doing her reply was, “I’m giving these to the ‘crooked childs.’ ”  This quality has been consistent throughout her life.

We used to draw letters on each other’s back at bedtime and excitedly guess what each other drew. It was a sweet, simple time. There was strong connection and love between us that has surrounded us throughout our lives.

Conflict arose in her fourth year when my second husband joined our family. Casey is fiercely loyal and I suspect this quality was triggered, perhaps including Sid felt like a breach of trust on some level. Also, Casey had to share me for the first time which made for a bumpy transition.

We eventually found a new equilibrium, that is, until a few years later when I dropped into a sense of unworthiness and self-loathing almost too painful to contain. I later recognized this as a replay of the postpartum depression I’d experienced for a few hours after her birth.

Dense feelings have a cumulative effect throughout our lives and once they become unbearable, the earlier triggers may have been long forgotten. They often become lumped into general malaise and even medicated. Our culture doesn’t value vulnerability and the trauma that contributes to it. Postpartum depression is usually minimized to just hormonal when it is more like a lantern illuminating, or bookmarking, an issue to be explored at a later date. Embracing a greater vision of the cumulative, multigenerational nature of trauma is essential if we are to heal the depression and fear so prevalent in our culture. As we are learning with epigenetics, trauma can skip one or two generations and really wreak havoc making it more difficult to connect the dots. The mother/daughter dyad can provide a mirroring aspect that is often unconscious and evocative. Understanding our ancestry can be a helpful part of the tremendous healing process that is possible with same gender dyads. Some useful tools are Holotropic Breathwork and Family Constellation Therapy.

Being a psychotherapist and open to different healing modalities, I was able to bring much of my angst to consciousness which became grist for the mill for myself and my children. Fortunately, I raised children who are self-aware and communicative. My parents, having been first generation American born with parents who immigrated from the traumas of Eastern Europe and grew up in the Great Depression, made physical survival a possibility for our lineage. I try to make it a practice with my children to give gratitude to their grandparents. Our ancestors’ lives were not easy.

Considering this, my mother was likely struggling with similar feelings I had, but she struggled silently and with fewer internal resources.

Aside from family issues, Casey and I share something unseen. There is an energy between us that is beyond our limited, concrete understanding. For example, when Casey was very young she, her father, and I swam with the manatees in Florida. We had not spoken of manatees for decades. When she was in France, twenty years later, she was walking into their rental telling Kumar about the manatees when she checked her mail and I sent her a Valentine’s Day card with the name of a manatee I had adopted in her name!

After the disability became physically apparent, Casey agreed to go to Brazil with me for a couple of weeks to see John of God. I wrote more specifically about this profound journey in my book and in a previous blog essay, click here. After two weeks in Abadiania, Brazil sharing one of the most profound experiences of my life, I saw more of how Casey and I were similar, than different. I experienced the deep soul connection between us and how it had profoundly affected the community of others seeking healing and their loved ones. The collective grief was palpable as we left on the bus.

It’s as if something was activated during that trip that I had not been aware of previously. When I was preparing my book for publication, Casey told me she wanted to go to the river in Louisiana where they grew up and do an art project with photography and that’s where she would speak to me after I left my body. I titled my book Meet Me By the River – A Woman’s Healing Journey after asking her permission. For the book, click here.

I could have written a full-length novel about my relationship with my daughter. When she feels joy, I feel joy; when she feels pain, I feel pain, like permanent tattoos. I can also feel my mother’s compassion and joy at watching Casey grow and learn, after all, that’s what we are here for. It is not an easy curriculum here in human bodies. It is the PhD level of evolution and my mother, now in Spirit, knows that. As I can now feel my mother’s unbridled love, I hope my children will feel mine and when we are together again, we will all have a celebration.
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Hard times require serious dancing. – Alice Walker

No. I don’t have a pretty picture like a great ship sailing in stormy waters or an image of a physical body’s particles dissolving into eternal, ecstatic light. This is my latest injury. My right leg sustained yet another injury last Friday while transferring to the stationary bike. (I know it’s bad when the hospice nurse cries.) What will I do when my legs can no longer support any of my weight, when I cannot stand or ride my bike or even take care of the basic daily living skills? My body is known for healing quickly, but each injury is more debilitating and each recovery finds a new baseline with less ability.

The night before the injury, I slept ten hours which is nearly a record. My sleeping has been getting better and even my occasional naps are becoming longer. I’ve heard that as people move toward dying they sleep more. I believe we are given much preparation for our transition in our sleep, whether it is received consciously or unconsciously. The day after the injury I woke up from a dream that was partially autobiographical, but with dreamlike embellishments. I believe they – the Voice I’ve spoken of previously– wake me early some nights, because there is something I am needing to acknowledge and/or process that in waking hours I cannot access. In my dream, my former husband was becoming more distant from me with coldness and resentment. I tried to call him near, but he told me that he was closer to his new girlfriend’s family than my family. When he told me this, I cried desperately from the grief and fear of going forward alone with this illness. This was mostly biographically accurate, but I received it as a reminder to grieve. Being able to grieve is so important in our bittersweet, human lives and I believe it’s necessary to grieve well in order to truly feel joy. Since I began psychotherapy in my 20s and through fifteen years of Holotropic Breathwork practice and becoming a trainer, I have become more comfortable with grief knowing that joy is just on the other side. David was unable to process grief openly during the eleven years we were together. No one could navigate this curriculum without the capacity for grief/joy. I understand that this is an accelerated course in life and not for everybody. It is not a failing to be overwhelmed by my life. Believe me, I get it.

In her seminal book, The Hero Within, Carol Pearson, presents six heroic archetypes that exist in all of us. To access this best-selling classic with strong Jungian influence, click here. According to her teachings, we all have access to each archetype, or ally, and when made conscious they can elevate our self-awareness. The archetypes evolve developmentally as we evolve.

Suddenly in the dream, I slapped my face. Referring to Pearson’s archetypes, I realize that I have been avoiding the feelings of the Orphan archetype (vulnerability, innocence, fear of abandonment), wanting more the Warrior archetype (strength and physical persistence). This translates literally to my waking life. Authors like Carol Pearson and Michael Brown offer us so many tools to aid in our evolution.

By waking up 2 1/2 hours early, I had the time to explore the meaning within the dream. I remembered an earlier time when I sustained multiple injuries while I was avoiding the use of a wheelchair. If you know anyone with a progressive neurological illness, as the disease progresses and one’s equilibrium is affected, one may tend to wall-walk in order to stay upright. I became adept at wall-walking, that is, until I fell with my computer landing on my knee to avoid damage to my laptop. My kneecap cracked with the force. Still, I persevered and dragged myself onto the tractor. If will could have kept this illness at bay, I might have dragged myself up Mount Everest. Climbing off the tractor, I fell on my knee again and broke my patella in half! I have always minimized my injuries, that is until I couldn’t.

I required crutches and then a walker while the injury healed. Soon, I fell onto my computer desk and cracked my sternum! When I finally sat in the freaking wheelchair, I felt the relief of surrender. The dream last night and my time in contemplation allowed me to wonder if the series of injuries I’m experiencing now is an indication that I am needing to surrender once again.

The Orphan archetype, an ally that brings resilience and realism to situations through a willingness to feel vulnerable might be the exact medicine I most need now. Ironically, the illusion of abandonment is the pitfall of the Orphan when life is not met head-on. So it seems that these recurring injuries may be a message that I am needing to meet what is head-on.

Ultimately, letting go of my will means letting go of the illusion of control, an illusion we share as humans and seems to be a recurring theme in my life. Feeling the grief of what I am leaving behind is part of the work of moving from Orphan to Innocent to Warrior to Magician, to ultimately allow myself to be transformed, to be more of who I truly Am.

My dear friends tell me daily how courageous I am and what an inspiration I am for their lives. If you are reading this, you are one of them. I appreciate being received as inspiring, but I know everybody will be facing this level of surrender eventually in our lives. I am just doing it earlier than most, in slow motion, and reporting in real-time.

I am moving into the next level of this heartbreaking and joyfully sacred path we call life, which includes death. May I do it all with Grace and Gratitude. Namaste.

When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe. There can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are made for. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

When I was a young girl, my father had a 1923 Ford Model T antique touring car that had a crank on the front that needed to be turned to start the engine. I’d heard you had to be careful it didn’t jerk your arm out of socket when you cranked it, it had quite a kick! The purpose was, in my seven-year-old understanding, to create a spark for the engine to start.

In looking back over the 40 years since completing my masters degree to practice psychotherapy, I recognize that I have played that same role with the people I served, to create a spark to get their psycho/spiritual engines going. This is neither a responsibility I take lightly, nor has competency come easily. It is a sacred task so deeply-rooted in my being that I believe I must have agreed to it prior to incarnating. My desire to serve has been just that pervasive throughout my personal and professional life and the joy I experience when their metaphoric engine gets running is profound!

Learning to hear the call of this sacred assignment began while I was still in single digits of age. In order to be effective, however, I had to reach a level of confidence that was not easy to come by. This journey toward self-love was wrought with many challenges, but I came into this world with a fierce desire to serve and I came to realize that in order to serve others, I first needed to heal myself. With this awareness, I started a life of seeking that led to many teachers and disciplines to help overcome my limitations. I’ve spoken before of my greatest teaching – to learn to trust my inner authority, which I believe is the only way to truly know one’s power. The experience of learning to drive a manual transmission in the late 60s served as a useful metaphor for understanding and developing this teaching.

Our parents and our older siblings serve as our first authority figures to help us practice vital lessons of personal power. When my brother was 21, he became my instructor and his 1968 GTO with a clutch that was about to fail became the instrument of my education. He knew the clutch could fail if handled recklessly and, believe me, he let me know it. What a set up for high tension. I knew if I didn’t learn fast, I’d be in serious trouble with my brother. What a perfect metaphor. My lack of confidence in life manifested as a fear of my own power (acceleration). Engaging the clutch unskillfully would immobilize the engine abruptly and infuriate my brother. Immobilization (shutting down) was my go-to strategy for warding off anxiety. My brother amplified the voice in my head creating reluctance, (fear). He taught me about the friction point, the point where the clutch and acceleration meet for forward motion. When met with accuracy, there was no damage to the clutch. To add to this tension, I was learning to drive a manual transmission in the hill section of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Engaging the clutch with your left foot on an incline could cause the car to roll requiring quick use of the brakes, also with your left foot. If there were a car behind me, catastrophe could ensue. The tension was great with the potential for collision with another car. You get the picture.

This mirrored a conflict that I refer to frequently in my life – immobilization versus empowerment, clutch versus accelerator. Applying the brakes offers more control, but I only have two feet! As I became more proficient at driving a stick shift, I felt less immobilized in life, less afraid of my power (acceleration). This has served as a good example of meeting my fears at the exact point where acceleration is required, to avoid stalling in the middle of traffic, to avoid a collision with fate, or my brother’s rage.

Another powerful metaphor was learning to waterski on one ski. Learning to ski on two skis was elementary growing up on a lake, but learning to slalom demonstrated the next level of proficiency. Learning to slalom, one needed to be able to shift one’s weight from two skis to one. This required shifting one’s whole equilibrium from two points of contact to one point of contact. Having the tendency to lose myself in relationships, the kinesthetic sense of balancing over my own center of gravity reminds me of learning to slalom. I often felt this shift after a divorce. After processing through the stages of grief, I always felt empowered when my center of gravity shifted over one ski, my ski!

And there is the snow ski metaphor when you have to lean forward as you ski downhill in order to navigate through the snow without losing your balance. Intuitively, we lean backwards to compensate for the downward slope. Leaning into issues sometimes means going against one’s intuition and one’s comfort zone. Thank you for indulging me in exploring these teachings.

Having spent most of my life in my body learning kinesthetically (in motion) to be still and listen deeply has been a huge gift that my ego would never freaking have chosen. Nevertheless, it has served me well. This carnal (physical) curriculum is not for the faint of heart. If my heart were anymore faint, I could never do terminal illness nearly as gracefully. As I live this end-stage form of neurological illness, I can see things in slow mo. My life force is growing exponentially as my body is weakening. My identification with this blessed vehicle is shifting to a greater me, the part of me that is more aware of other dimensions. There are times when my perceptions and my sense of love is so heightened that I know that transition to Spirit will be a minor step. Each time I experience this, fear of the unknown diminishes.

In their published work, James Lawley and Penny Thompkins assert that “metaphor is an active process which is at the very heart of understanding ourselves, others and the world about us.” I have much gratitude for the teachings that surround us when the intention is self-reflection that leads to empathy. After all, teachings that lead to having greater compassion for ourselves and others is the essential work of this time. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes so beautifully reassures us to not lose heart, because We were made for these times.

VISIT THE BLOG FOR MY NEW BOOK – MEET ME BY THE RIVER!

Go to - http://www.meetmebytheriver.net -- And you can find it on Amazon!
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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