familyAliyah writes this blog from a very particular and beautiful spot on this planet. She dwells in Crestone, a remote town in southern Colorado, nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The fourteen thousand foot peaks gives way to a wide expanse of high valley at eight thousand feet, where many native and hispanic peoples have traversed for centuries. The silence here is exquisite, the sky very blue, and the landscape appeals to the deeper parts of one’s being.

Within this vast expanse, Aliyah is physically confined to a large circular space in her home. She has a degenerative disease which causes her immobility of body, but in her words, she lives a regenerative life.

The journey of her life from growing up in Pennsylvania, with summers on the lake, reading Dibs: In Search of Self revealing her calling, to the University of Miami for a degree in psychology, to graduate school at Tulane University in New Orleans, are all a piece of her deeply textured colorful life experiences. She felt as if she had “died and gone to heaven” inhaling the scorpionic mystery that is New Orleans. Her heart was nourished and expanded in Louisiana, and was called to Colorado following Hurricane Katrina.

At fifty-five, this completely sentient, well-educated, beautiful woman who had a successful career as a psychotherapist, who had traveled deep waters in her Self through decades of alternative and esoteric practices, who had lived on a horse farm and run road races and traveled the world––– sat unable to walk, move her arms, sit up, feed herself or go to the bathroom on her own. This is where her lifetime of courageous living showed up. Instead of psychologically walling herself off, instead of hiding within memory or illusion, she has bared her heart wide open to this reality and is hopeful that others with catastrophic illnesses or injuries may be helped with her songs. Out of this came her blog. While the MS has progressed, her inner life has expanded exponentially as her heart flowers open at depth, accelerated by what she calls, “the curriculum of the illness.”

This experience has sparked a burning desire to be totally naked, in her humanity and her flaws, as she inspires us through her willingness to share her challenges, letting us be open to healing, becoming oxygen in the air for us all. Her vision for this offering came as an image of holding out a candle lit with her life experiences, so that others may light their candles from her flame, and the collective flame will become so strong that it will burn off all the impurities and self-hatred which holds us in true limitation.

She lives her life wide open, no buffers, no confidentiality. She dedicates her life force to nurturing people into the fuller, deeper aspects of themselves, and of their lives. She has a network of care partners and physical therapists who supported her to live with independence and dignity. She supports them with a triweekly circle, to facilitate the cohesion and to allow all around her to share their hearts openly, in safety and non-judgment.

In this way she lives a new vision of healing––one where our “curriculums” are our steppingstones, and our common ground to grow and expand a more loving world.

–Judith Oakland and Kathryn Brady